What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Copperhead is a Civil War drama that focuses on one family of upstate New York Democrats who opposed the conflict. Called "Copperheads," the Northern Democrats are depicted as pacifists who don't believe that President Lincoln is acting within his constitutional bounds, while the town's abolitionists are portrayed as violent zealots who will stand by as the country is destroyed for the sake of freeing the slaves. Older kids and teens who've learned about the war may have questions about the movie's historical accuracy, and parents should be prepared to clarify some of the oversimplified depictions. There's very little language, a few kisses, and a couple of scenes of men drinking from a jug. Violence includes a brawl, a mob that accidentally lights a house on fire, and a disturbing image of a man who hangs himself. Ultimately, the movie's lesson is a biblical and civil one -- to love your neighbor as you love yourself, even if you disagree with him.
  • Families can talk about what they learned from Copperhead about the Civil War. How does it differ from other depictions of the time?
  • What is the director trying to say about the Civil War? Why do you think there are still such strong opinions about the causes of the war?
  • According to one historian, the Northern "Peace Democrats" weren't pacifists, like the Quakers and the Mennonites, and were very much pro-slavery. So why do you think the filmmaker makes it seem like Abner is a pacifist who's "concerned" about slavery? How could you find out more about the abolitionists and the Copperheads?
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