I would like to ask a question about the film Skin. I want to write an expository essay, but I need more help.

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Expository writing simply refers to an essay, article, or other format that seeks to explain or describe the subject matter.   That’s pretty much it.  Simply explain the topic, in this case, the 2008 film Skin, directed by Anthony Fabian and written by Helen Crawley, Jessie Keyt, and Helena Kriel.  That little bit of information is the first sentence in an expository article about this particular film.  The bulk of the article or essay, then, describes the film’s plot in straightforward style, with no extraneous details, such as the writer’s opinion on the quality of the film or on the theme or subject matter.  In this case, the article would describe, without political commentary, the plot of Skin.  As there are numerous sources of information on individual films, including compilations of reviews by prominent film critics, including the late Roger Ebert and Leonard Malkin, as well as the online source IMDb, finding plot descriptions for most films is very simple.  Additionally, the student posing the question can rent or purchase in a number of formats (e.g., DVD, electronic download) the film and actually watch it. 

Skin is a film that takes place during the apartheid era in South Africa, when the minority white, predominately Afrikaner (white South Africans of Dutch descent) population imposed harsh segregationist policies on the nation’s large black majority.  Actor Sam Neill portrays Abraham Laing, and Alice Krige portrays his wife, Sannie.  Together, they portray the white parents of a dark-skinned girl whose racial identity provides the film’s drama and theme.  As the girl, Sandra, is Abraham and Alice’s natural parents(?), the problems associated with raising a child of color in a predominantly white community becomes a source of tension throughout the film.  As Sandra grows into a beautiful young woman, she is forced to confront the reality that she will never be accepted in the white community, and directs her attentions towards the desperately poor and repressed black world of apartheid-era South Africa. 

Additional details on Skin are available at the aforementioned sources, and more details regarding the subject matter should be gleaned from those sources or from viewing the film, but this provides a broad summary of the film’s plot.  To reiterate, an expository essay provides a simple description of the subject matter.  Context is recommended, but commentary should be avoided.

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