Redemption and Condemnation: Skin

In today’s society, one of our most hotly debated issues is racism and racial inequality. Why something so obviously proven to be true is hotly debated is beyond me. It is important to note that in passionate debates, the parties involved are asked to look at the other side and try to understand their viewpoints. How do you examine a side that is entirely made up of Nazis? Perhaps by listening to the one that escaped.

Skin is a 2018 American drama directed by Isreali director Guy Nattiv. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2018 and will be released July 26, 2019, by A24. The cast includes veterans like Vera Farmiga and Jamie Bell and recent rising star, Danielle Macdonald.

The film is based on a true story about a former skinhead member, Bryon Widner, and his path to redemption. In the trailer we see Bell portraying Widner, covered in facial tattoos, partaking in racist rallies and Nordic festivals all supporting the common goal of white supremacy. He sees though after he meets Julie Price, a single mother with three kids, just how damaging this environment is and how much it has affected him as a person. With this realization, he begins to try to find a way out of this pit and finds himself running up against his father figure and leader who would rather see him dead than let him leave.

This film is one of the stories that need to be told right now. In our angry and broken world, we need continued stories of redemption and forgiveness, reminding us that no one is beyond mercy and nothing is beyond God’s grace. We also need films that continue to protest against the white supremacist movements. Skin serves as a direct contrast to American History X, another story that followed a neo-nazi protagonist but was also an anti-nazi text. The imagery used in the film, however, was praised by many white supremacy groups and swiftly appropriated for their own agenda. Skin does not allow for this kind of appropriation. The content is not cool, the visuals are not cool. Bryon Widner’s facial tattoos act as a brand. He does not wear them with pride. A film that presents themes of both redemption and condemnation is something that we so desperately need.

by Mya Anderson