directed by Chris Eyre
(First Look, 2002)

Prior to Columbus's arrival in the New World, there were 100 million Native Americans. Today, there are less than 3 million, but their cultures are still alive and thriving.

Skins is the first movie filmed on Pine Ridge Reservation. Pine Ridge is in the shadow of Mount Rushmore, and Wounded Knee is part of the preserve. There are no "set pieces" on this reservation. Yes, it looks like a Third World country, because that is precisely what it is. Listen to the statistics at the beginning of this movie.

The story of two brothers is as old as time. Mogie Yellow Lodge (Graham Greene) is a fallen warrior who didn't come back quite right from Vietnam. Wounded three times, he spends his time drinking away the memories, but he's still kept his love of family and his sense of humor intact. His younger brother Rudy (Eric Schweig) is a reservation cop and vigilante. When Rudy tries to help the rez by burning a white-owned liquor store on U.S. lands, he accidentally injures his brother.

The story is told with stark detail and empathy by Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals), who is also a Native American -- as are most of the cast and crew. The writer, Adrian C. Lewis, is also a Native American who believed the story needed to be told.

Another excellent aspect of this film is the music. You've got Robbie Robertson, Neil Young and a cast of others doing a stellar job on this soundtrack. Well worth a listen -- I believe the music is only available individually, unfortunately.

Don't stop watching at the end of the film. Aftward, the cast and crew get together to talk about their roles in the film and their Native American beliefs. One of the things they mentioned is how difficult the filming was, but the cast and crew burned sage and meditated every day. I think the love and effort every person put into this film clearly shows.

review by
Becky Kyle

4 October 2008

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