When the credits finished rolling and the lights came back on in Gettysburg's Majestic Theater, audience members rose from their seats as the film's director made his way toward the stage.
The local theater was host to the world premiere of director Ron Maxwell's latest project "Copperhead," a Civil War-themed film that shows what daily life was like away from the action-packed battlefields.
"It's humbling," Maxwell said of the audience's reaction Thursday night. "It couldn't be better."
Maxwell knew local viewers might be some of the film's toughest critics because "here, people know and people care" about their Civil War history. But he is pleased with the public's initial response to the project he spent the last four years working on.
Many audience said they members enjoyed the movie's fresh angle on the Civil War era. Instead of bloody battles, Maxwell's story -- which is based on the 1893 book written by Harold Frederic -- highlights how the war affected those who remained at home when their sons, friends and lovers left to join the army.
"It gives you a different perspective," said Ralph Helman, a former re-enactor and a fan of Maxwell's other films, "Gettysburg" and "Gods and Generals."
This new perspective was one of the reasons Lucy Boynton was excited to be part of the cast of the film.
Although she said she didn't learn much about the Civil War when she was in school, the London native was able to appreciate how unique the "Copperhead" story was.
"It was a huge honor to help get that message out," she said.
And fellow cast member Augustus Prew said he was attracted to the project because of the film's common themes. Though the film is about a period of U.S. history, the emotions and heartbreak that surround war can be felt worldwide, he said.
"These are universal themes, there not something that are strictly American," he said during a Q&A period that followed the screening.
Other audience members said they appreciate the way the film makes people think about the past and how it has helped shape the country that exists today.
"I don't think people look at history enough," Deborah Brower said.
The Frederick, Md., resident said she hopes the film will get more people interested in history and ignite a desire to learn more about America's past.
The proceeds from the premiere will benefit The Journey Through Hallowed Ground, a non-profit whose aim is to educate students on American history. Founder and President Cate Magennis Wyatt said the event raised about $8,000, all of which will go toward their educational programming.
(c)2013 The Evening Sun (Hanover, Pa.)
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