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Skin: Learning Resource by Film Education

A visual emphasis on skin

Sandra in School Uniform

Read this brief description of an early scene in SKIN.  It describes Sandra preparing herself for her first day at school.


Small hands tugging on a sock.
A shirt pulled down over a dark curly head.
A skirt being fastened at the waist.
Buttons done-up on a striped blazer.
Sandra stares at herself in a full-length mirror, dressed in her school uniform for the first time. Satisfied.

It is hardly a very remarkable set of events, but it comes at the very start of a film entitled SKIN, and, as anyone closely involved in the making of film will say, nothing that survives through to the final version of a movie is there by chance – so you can bet it is significant.  Imagine that you were in charge of the filming of this scene – how would you show these actions if your overall intention was to show:

  1. This is a practiced routine – something that Sandra is used to and is more of a chore than anything else.
  2. This is a wonderful ritual, a new ritual – after a very free life without much formality, Sandra is experiencing both the thrill and uncertainty of putting on such smart clothes.
  3. Sandra is less important than the details of her skin in this scene as her body is slowly enclosed into this new uniform.

When Sandra is finally revealed in the mirror in long shot she is only granted a second or so of screen time to admire herself  but then the camera lingers on the ‘empty’ mirror for a full three seconds – a substantial amount of time for such a still and seemingly uneventful moment - what, in your view,  is the impact and possible meaning of this curious, rather disconcerting sequence?

Move on to the next section 'Script to Screen'