Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Skin...The Movie

I saw this movie over a year ago and I am ashamed that I'm just getting around to writing about it.  In a nutshell, I LOVE THIS MOVIE!! It is based on the book, When She Was White, by Judith Stone, which was an amazing read. I read the book prior to seeing it, and I truly enjoyed the book more, but that is usually what happens with me.  I enjoy good books because of how the reader can imagine the scenes and characters for themselves.  The story details the life of a black South African woman, Sandra Laing, born to white parents during the apartheid era.  You can imagine the struggle that this woman endured during a time when there were stringent restrictions on relationships between blacks, whites and coloureds. A major part of the story is the determination of Sandra's father to have her permanently classified as white, even though she clearly is not, in order for it to be legal for Sandra to live with her family. To be clear, Sandra's parents were definitely pro-apartheid, so it had to have caused them some internal strife to have a child as brown as she.  Based on physical traits (i.e., hair texture, language, skin color), Sandra is classified as coloured at the age of 10 and expelled from the "whites only" school she is attending.  Ultimately, the government would reclassify Sandra 3 times over the course of 40 years. 

A discussion point raised in the book (available at Amazon), is the small segment of DNA that actually determines skin color. People share 99.9 % of the same genes, with very minor genetic variations that determine skin color. It is such a small biological difference among the races, but has historically been a huge factor in human conflict over the ages. I may be sounding like an idealist now, but if we could all learn to appreciate our differences, instead of using them as a reason to hate each other, so many of our conflicts could be minimized. I'll keep on dreaming....

Back to the movie. The actress who played Sandra Laing is Sophie Okonedo. I absolutely love her and feel that her talent is so underutilized. She is an amazing actress...one of those rare types that can actually sink into her role so that you identify so much with her character and forget that you are watching Sophie. Know what I mean?

Unfortunately, there has been limited release in the U.S., but according to the website, a DVD release is to be expected here in the coming months. I saw it last year at a film festival in DC, but I don't think I would have even known about the movie if I hadn't read the book. Reading really is fundamental! I know I'm such a cornball.

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