Skins movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Skins filmed

2002

About Skins

Skins is a 2002 movie, directed and produced by Chris Eyre, which follows two Lakota Sioux brothers living on the South Dakota Beaver Creek Indian Reservation. The two brothers, Rudy and Mogie Yellow Lodge, have different views on where they live. Rudy is a police officer who tries to better the town, and Mogie spends most of his time drinking and talking about how depressing the reservation is.

Mogie also has a teenage son, but Rudy is the one that tries to take care of everyone, including his brother and nephew. As a child Rudy was bitten by a spider that his brother referred to as a trickster spider, and when Rudy comes across the same kind of spider early in the movie he starts to veer further and further from what the law is.

When he is sent to an abandoned house to investigate, Rudy finds that someone has been beaten to death. He notices a figure in the house too, but it escapes before Rudy can catch it. In trying to catch the person, Rudy hits his head on a rock. Rudy’s friends tell him how spiritual rocks are, and he starts to feel he’s turning into a vigilante.

After noticing a boy with the same shoes Rudy saw on the figure, he follows him and listens in on a conversation between the boy and his friends. When the boys start to talk about how to get rid of the boots connecting them to the dead body, Rudy takes justice into his own hands. With his face painted black and a baseball bat in hand, Rudy beats their kneecaps. While doing so he says that he is the ghost of the boy that was murdered.

Shortly after he hears about a liquor store profiting off alcoholics living on the reservation, Rudy sets it on fire in anger. However, Mogie had been on the roof and was badly hurt. In the hospital, Mogie learns he is dying. When Rudy reveals he was the one to set the fire, Mogie says he can make it up to him by going to Mount Rushmore and blowing up George Washington’s nose.

Throughout the final scenes of the movie, Mogie’s drinking buddy dies, then Mogie dies wanting Rudy to look after his son. Rudy then goes to Mount Rushmore and pours red paint down the face of George Washington.

City Locations

Pine Ridge, South Dakota

Location Types

NatureScapes, House, Ranch, Religious, Retail

Location Styles

Americana/Anywhere America, Classic Car, Dated/50's-60's-70's Building, Desert

Skins Locations

The 2002 movie Skins was filmed at locations in South Dakota. It was filmed on the actual Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the state. Mount Rushmore can be seen looming over the reservation, and both of these significant landmarks are still standing today.

This reservation near Mount Rushmore was used because the mountain is an important piece of Sioux culture. Areas around the reservation were used for various shots in the Chris Eyre movie. The film is based on a novel of the same name, written by Adrian C Louis, and the real setting used is the same setting featured in the book.

When the movie was filming, conditions on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were worse than they are today, and Skins was shot to showcase this. The mountain where Mount Rushmore was carved is actually called the Black Hills.

The landmark is sacred to the Sioux, as well as rocks in general, and this is mentioned multiple times throughout the movie. The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has been featured in several other movies over the years that show a Native American reservation. Both of these prominent locations in Skins are still around today and are frequently visited.

Rudy responds to a call scene in Skins

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Manderson-White Horse Creek, South Dakota

One of the first scenes in Skins shows Rudy responding to a call to an abandoned house on the reservation. Rudy is a cop and following the law is something that is revealed to be important to him early on. When he gets to the house, Rudy finds the dead body of a young boy, probably a teenager. It looks like the person has been beaten to death. When Rudy notices a figure standing in the darkness of the old house, he runs after them. However, Rudy quickly falls and is knocked out after hitting his head on a rock. This causes whoever was in the house to get away.

When Rudy manages to get back to town, a fellow cop asks him, “Jeez, Yellow Lodge, what the hell happened to you?”

Rudy responds with, “I had a head-on with a rock.”

He is later told by his friends and others how spiritual rocks are said to be.

This film shoot, like most of the others in Skins, was filmed on the actual Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, which acts as the Beaver Creek Indian Reservation where the events of the movie take place. This reservation is in South Dakota and has been featured in several movies over time.

Finding the attacker scene in Skins

Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Manderson-White Horse Creek, South Dakota

It is not much later in the film that Rudy comes across who the attacker was. He recognizes the tennis shoes that he sees on a teenage boy and follows after the boy to eavesdrop on a conversation between him and his friends. This conversation reveals that this group of teenagers is the one responsible for killing the boy in the house.

After hearing this, Rudy covers his face in black paint and uses a baseball bat to attack the boys. He breaks their kneecaps and claims to be the ghost of the person they killed. Rudy returns home to wash his face, and he sees a spider that is considered to be the trickster spirit of Iktomi.

Rudy talked about the spirit earlier in the film, saying, “Iktomie, the trickster spider, a Lakota spirit, had reappeared in my life. I was 10 years old when we first met in the outhouse one spring morning.”

The liquor store fire scene in Skins

Badlands Grocery, Interior, South Dakota

In the movie Skins, Rudy finds himself set on the path to become a vigilante, which starts when he attacks the group of boys. Not long after this, there is a scene where Rudy listens to a news report about a liquor store that is close to the reservation.

The news story reveals how the store profits off of the reservation, and this hits close to home for Rudy. He sets out on another vigilante mission and sets the liquor store on fire. However, Rudy’s brother Mogie was on the roof attempting to break in, and he gets badly hurt during the fire. Later on in the hospital, Rudy reveals this to his older brother.

After hearing this, Mogie says, “I didn't know you hated me that much.”

Rudy says, “I don't hate you, Moagie! How the hell was I supposed to know you were up there? I don't know what else to say, I'm sorry.”

In the final scenes of Skins, Rudy continues to express remorse for injuring his brother during his vigilante actions.

The sweat lodge scene in Skins

Circle View Guest Ranch, Scenic, South Dakota

One of the first scenes in Skins shows Rudy at a sweat lodge, hoping to find spiritual guidance. He reveals that he fell and hit his head with a rock, and also admits to being involved with a married woman.

“I been messing around with a married woman. And a couple of weeks ago I hit my head on a rock.”

This is another scene where Rudy is told about how spiritual rocks can be.

“Rocks can be very spiritual things, Rudy. Our sacred Black Hills, paha sapha, where American carved its Presidents into the sacred rocks,” the Sweatleader tells him.

When Rudy says he has never thought about rocks really, the Sweatleader tells him, “Skins have forgotten the forces that live around them.”

This scene was also filmed in South Dakota on the actual Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Mogie in the hospital scene in Skins

Pine Ridge Hospital, Pine Ridge, South Dakota

In the final scenes of Skins, Mogie spends time in the hospital due to the liquor store and learns that he is going to die. Mogie is dying because of how much he has been drinking throughout much of his adult life. These are some of the most emotional scenes in the movie, and like most of the other scenes in the film, it was shot in South Dakota. At first, Mogie tries to act like he is not scared to die, but that does not last long.

Mogie says, “I'm not afraid to die. No, maybe I lie when I say I'm not afraid. I'm very afraid. So be it.”

When Mogie is in the hospital Rudy reveals the truth about the liquor store fire and tells his brother about his recent vigilante activities.

“Okay. I'm a vigilante.”

When Mogie hears this, he says, “What, you mean like Rambo?”

Mogie’s death scene in Skins

Pine Ridge Hospital, Pine Ridge, South Dakota

In Skins, one of the saddest scenes is when Mogie dies in the hospital. It has already been revealed that he will die, so viewers are not shocked when it happens, but it does not make the scene any less emotional. Before this happens, Mogie has already expressed fear about where he could go in the afterlife.

Before Mogie dies he tells his loved ones, “When your turn comes, I'll be waiting to welcome you into the spirit world, if that's where I'm headed. That is what scares me the most. What if the waiscu is right? There is a hell and I get shipped there. Well, at least I got a 50/50 chance. I love you all.”

After Mogie has died, Rudy finds a letter his older brother wrote, asking Rudy to care for his son. Mogie’s son has just recently turned 18. Rudy also learns that the liquor store is going to be built again even bigger, he gets angry and decides he needs to make some kind of stand.

Conclusion

Skins is a 2002 movie that showcases aspects of Lakota culture and was filmed on the South Dakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Mount Rushmore towers over this location and it can be seen during multiple scenes in the film. Skins was written by both Adrian C. Louis and Jennifer D. Lynne. It was directed by Chris Eyre and starred various well-known actors. Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Noah Watts, and Gary Farmer can be seen in this emotional and dramatic film. It tells the story of Rudy, a cop, who is trying to take care of his older brother Mogie, who is an alcoholic and still suffering from his time at war.

Even though Rudy has always tried to follow the law, Skins sees him turn into a vigilante to try and get justice for his reservation and everyone he cares about. The movie got mixed reviews but was overall considered to be successful.