37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
The Movie Man
- Published on Amazon.com
"Skin" is the story of Sandra Laing (Sophie Okonedo), born black in the 1950's to white Afrikaners unaware of their black ancestry. Her parents, rural shopkeepers Abraham (Sam Neill) and Sannie (Alice Krige) who serve the local black community, lovingly raise her as their "white" little girl. Still, at the age of ten, facing prejudice from her community due to her dark skin and African features, Sandra is driven out of her society. The film follows Sandra's 30-year odyssey from rejection to acceptance, betrayal to reconciliation, as she struggles to define her place in a changing world against countless obstacles.
Ms. Okonedo plays Sandra not as a symbol of black struggle in apartheid-era South Africa but as a determined woman attempting to discover her true self. As a mature woman and mother, her Sandra still looks to heal psychological wounds inflicted on her as a child. South Africa's Population Registration Act of 1950 required people to be identified, defined, classified, and separated by color, but in Sandra's home town, folks were less intolerant.
O'Neill's Abraham is sympathetic as he attempts to have the law changed so Sandra can be classified by heritage rather than appearance, but also reveals himself to have deep-seated racism.
Bonus extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, outtakes, and script development workshops.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Drama set mainly during the Apartheid-era in South Africa telling the story of Sandra Laing (played by Sophie Okonedo), a young Afrikanner woman who although having white biological parents by a genetic fluke is born black and the problems that this causes her in the society in which she lives. A stirring performance largely by Sophie Okonedo (who plays Sandra Laing from about the age of 17) as we follow Sandra Laing's life over a period of about 30 years; from when she is about 10 to 12 years old and experiences severe racism from staff and pupils at the boarding school she is attending because she is seen as black (the 10 to 12 year old Laing is played by another actress, not Okonedo); through the landmark court case that her parents fight in which she is officially classed as white; through her disownment at about the age of 17 by her parents when she falls for and elopes with a young black man who works for her father; through her decision to be reclassified as black because she feels rejected by Afrikanner society; through times of severe hardship such as when the Afrikanner establishment bulldozes her home because the government has decreed that the settlement in which she lives is now in a `whites-only' area; through seeing her husband and father of her two children over time become a violent drunk who at least once violently assaults her, leading her to leave him and fend for her two children on her own as a black single mother in apartheid-era south Africa; and finally through the pain that Laing carries over a period of about 20 years because she is estranged from her parents and wishes to be reunited with them again (especially her mother). Most of the film takes place against the backdrop of the injustice that was apartheid in South Africa and the film does not shy away from graphic depictions of the racism, prejudice and hostility towards blacks that was prevalent during the apartheid-era in South Africa. Although a somewhat bleak film with much sorrow in it, the film does end on a hopeful note as Laing lives to see the abolition of apartheid when she is in her forties (in the early 1990s) and the beginnings of the new South Africa. Hence the film's story is ultimately a positive one, because Laing's story is also the story of South Africa. Rewarding viewing.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
On the recommendation of some Nigerian friends, my wife and I grabbed a copy of "Skin" and sat down for a Saturday evening movie. We expected good things, but we were bowled over by the deep questions and emotion in this film, based upon the true story of Sandra Laing growing up in South Africa during the time of apartheid.
Sandra looks black. Which means she cannot be in a relationship with a white or even shop in the same store as the whites. But here parents are both white, and her mother swears that she has never been unfaithful. As Sandra heads to school, the color of her skin becomes an issue for students and parents, not to mention a heartless school master. Sandra's father vows to fight for her, and indeed the question of Sandra's identity is taken to the supreme court, where they judgment decades ago was based solely on appearance. Sandra is classified "black," but later, when genetics and heritage became the standard, her classification is changed to "white."
The problem is that Sandra now finds herself in love with a black man. Her father is outraged and goes to extremes to stop the relationship. Her mother seems to be on her side, but then turns against her, stuck between an angry, violent husband and their grown daughter. Sandra is forced to make choices, more than once, that deal with heritage, color, identity, and family. Does love cross these lines? Does love erase these lines?
In the end, "Skin" is a powerful movie, told with honesty, grace, hardship, and a cast of fantastic actors. The emotions range from humor to horror to sorrow to muted joy. It is a story that reminds us not only of the injustice of apartheid and racism, but of what it means to be human. I highly recommend it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I bought this movie for our Friday night family movie night. We could have never expected the impact it would have on us as a family. It is so gripping, on several occasions throughout the movie we had to pause the movie and grasp what was taking place and discuss it. The irony of the film is powerful, in Apartheid South Africa a white family is forced to deal with racism in a way that hits home literally, and up close and personally affects their family. We came away from this movie as a family by praying for Sandra Laing, because at the end the DVD shows you the real life Sandra and where she is today and how she is doing. This is a life-changing must see! Simple Truth Too: Understanding the Bible In Everyday Life Simple Truth Catch A Falling Star
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Too few of us realize the atrocities of Apartheid, a social and political policy of racial segregation and discrimination enforced by white minority governments in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. 'The term apartheid (from the Afrikaans word for "apartness") was coined in the 1930s and used as a political slogan of the National Party in the early 1940s, but the policy itself extends back to the beginning of white settlement in South Africa in 1652. After the primarily Afrikaner Nationalists came to power in 1948, the social custom of apartheid was systematized under law. The implementation of the policy, later referred to as "separate development," was made possible by the Population Registration Act of 1950, which put all South Africans into three racial categories: Bantu (black African), white, or Coloured (of mixed race).' Yes, everyone knows the story of Nelson Mandela and the end of Apartheid, but too few of us recognize the appalling effects of that system on the peoples of South Africa. This true story should alter that and perhaps bring a higher degree of respect for those who survived that ugly system. Based on the book 'When She Was White' by Judith Stone, Anthony Fabian wrote the story (with Helen Crawley, Jessie Keyt and Helena Kriel) and directs this terrifying but ultimately triumphant film - a story we shall not soon forget.
Abraham and Lannie Laing (Sam Neill and Alice Krige) are Afrikaans who live and work their general store in the countryside with their two children Sandra (Ella Ramangwane as the young Sandra and Sphie Okenedo as the mature Sandra) and Henry. The Laings have sequestered themselves because their daughter appears black. Abraham constantly defends the 'whiteness' of his daughter at every level of the government and finally the Laings obtain admission to private white school for Sandra and Henry. The school quickly dismisses Sandra because she 'is black', is beaten by teachers, and the school calls in doctors and other government support to back their opinion. But through the tireless efforts of Abraham he finally gets a certification of Sandra's 'whiteness'. Sandra faces intolerance from the community but finds solace in the attention of a 'kaffir', Petrus Zwane (Tony Kgoroge) and in time the frustrated Sandra accepts the warmth of Petrus and they fall in love. Abraham is furious and casts Sandra out of his home: Sandra and Petrus move into a black village and have babies until the whites demand the land on which the blacks are living and destroy Sandra and Petrus's home. Petrus turns to drink and blames his loss of all his goods on marrying a 'white girl': Sandra and her now three children move to Johannesburg to find safety and employment, having been rejected by Sandra's parents. When the Apartheid is banished Sandra becomes a spokesperson for her people and her country because she 'never gave up'.
In this history of the Apartheid the impact is made so very much stronger by the fact that the film shows both sides of the struggle - from the white viewpoint and the black viewpoint. Sandra's father may have fought against the prejudice but when his daughter accepts being black, he is as raw and prejudiced as the rest of the whites. Sandra's mother (played with compassion by Alice Krige) maintains her love and support of her beloved daughter but by societal demands she must bow to her husband's wishes. As Sandra Sophie Okenedo shines in a performance that is brilliantly three dimensional - she is an enormously gifted actress. The entire large cast is excellent, recreating a period in history we can only hope will never happen again. This is a wholly satisfying film. Grady Harp, August 11