Kissed by Lightning
Kissed by Lightning is a remarkable tale of spiritual awakening, sets in deepest winter in the woodlands of Canada. The film is multi-dimensional and multi-layered; it’s a love story symbolically based on the 14th Century Iroquois legend of Peacemaker and Hiawatha.
Mavis Dogblood (Kateri Walker) is a heart-broken Mohawk painter who keeps the memory of her dead husband, Jessie Lightning (Michael Greyeyes), alive in her paintings, through the recreation of the stories he would tell her. She struggles to move on, but when an upcoming art exhibition in New York requires Mavis to embark on a road trip, she finds herself faced with the difficult task of letting go.
Mavis has a potential lover waiting for her to absolve her grief: her good friend Solomon «Bug» King (Eric Schweig). The new man in her life patiently waits for her to resolve her emotional struggle. He goes with Mavis to help deliver the paintings in New York for her solo exhibition. During the trip, they meet many characters who help Mavis starts chipping away at her wall of grief.
In the role of Solomon King, Eric Schweig offers an excellent performance as an actor. He appears about 10 minutes after the beginning of the film. His character is a musician (like Jessie) with a quiet and loving temperament. Due to an accident just before leaving for New York, Solomon must take painkillers that make him extremely drowsy. There are several scenes, including a very funny one at the U.S. Customs, where Eric Schweig sleeps almost everywhere. But in one of his lucid moments during the trip, Solomon declares his love to Mavis while exposing all his fragility.
Eric Schweig’s interpretation of Solomon in the film consists of a happy mix of funny facial expressions, as he often does in the show Arbor Live, a retained intensity like his Pike Dexter in Big Eden, and a very sweet attitude like Samuel in Mr. Barrington. In this film, we also have the privilege of hearing Eric Schweig sing! A pleasant surprise.
Solomon and Mavis are beings full of goodness who share a great tenderness for one another. But at the first appearance of Eric Schweig in the film, we understand that Solomon is madly in love with Mavis. Solomon, however, keeps a respectful silence about his feelings towards his friend in mourning. After Solomon’s accident, Mavis takes care of him and they both sleep together as brother and sister in the sofa bed of her small studio (we understand that this situation would not be so easy for Solomon if he was not under the influence of strong painkillers!). The two protagonists have vivid dreams and visions related to Iroquois legends, and perceive the ghosts of their ancestors. In one of the visions of Mavis, Solomon and Jessie even become Peacemaker and Hiawatha.
During the trip to New York, Mavis and Solomon also visit the shrine of Kateri Tekakwitha to deliver prayers for Jessie’s ex-wife. She had also asked them to stop at Jessie’s mother’s home to give her a picture of her grandson, whom she has not seen in many years. Mavis was reluctant to do this since she had never met her mother-in-law, but Solomon managed to convince her. Mavis and Solomon find the home of Jessie’s mother, Josephine (Monique Mojica). Mavis and Josephine bond almost immediately and Mavis confides in her mother-in-law about the struggles she has been having since Jessie’s death. Josephine helps Mavis see that she needs to let go of her grief and allow Solomon more fully into her life.
Finally, in one of her visions, Mavis finally said goodbye to Jessie. When Solomon found her in tears, she opens her heart to him, takes him in her arms and they kiss lovingly. They go hand in hand at the opening reception of Mavis exhibition. We see among visitors the ghosts of Iroquois ancestors contemplating her paintings with satisfaction. Mavis is at last happy and at peace.
In 1998 Shelley Niro began the script for “Kissed by Lightning.” From start to production it took 11 years for the movie to be finished and was well worth the wait. The story is beautiful with stunning visuals. The tone is quirky and humorous with music that is hauntingly beautiful and an important part of the film experience. Shelley Niro’s paintings, the 12 portrait series of the Peacemaker’s Journey, are also a wonderful addition to the movie. The characters have depth and the viewer can identify with them.
Director: Shelly Niro
Writer: Ken Chubb
Stars: Kateri Walker, Eric Schweig, Michael Greyeyes, Rachelle White Wind Arbez, Wesley French, Monique Mojica, Sean Baek.