Category Archives: Films
Producer: JJ Production
Distributor: TW Media Events
Theatrical Release: fall 2016
Director: Jaspreet Kaur
Producer: Prabhjot Bhangu
Screenplay: Jaspreet Kaur, Prabhjot Bhangu
Starring: Laura Mitchell, Steve Baran, Eric Schweig
Running Time: 90 mins.
The movie Red River (Les amants de Rivière-Rouge) is a French film directed by Yves Boisset, with Christophe Malavoy in the lead role of Monge and Eric Schweig in the secondary role of Napoleon. The film was acclaimed in Europe when it was released in 1996.
The adventurer Monge and his Métis friend Napoleon stop at Red River to sell their horses. Captivated by a farm girl, Hannah (Claudia Koll), Monge decided to settle there. Napoleon did not understand that the love of a woman can compromise their friendship. A violent fight broke out, and Napoleon left alone to the mountains. But years later, Napoleon returns to Red River and Hannah falls in love with him. The young woman being pregnant, Hannah and Napoleon run away. Furious, Monge goes in search of Hannah and Napoleon throughout the Rocky Mountains. When he finally finds them after many months, a surprise was awaiting for him…
This romantic story, shot in the same landscape as the movie Legends of the Fall, has several timeouts (the length of the film is 3 hours) and the chemistry between the actors seem difficult sometimes, probably because during the shooting, some declaim their lines in English and others in French. There are however some exciting scenes, like the one where Eric Schweig is fighting against a bear, the famous «Bart the Bear» (an Alaskan Kodiak bear appearing in several films).
Eric’s interpretation of Napoleon is honest, although he revealed in an interview for Mohican Press he did not really likes this movie, especially the scene where Napoleon is killed by Monge, adding that “it’s the most horrible death scene that I’ve ever done.” During the shooting of the film in 1996, Eric Schweig still sported his characteristic long hair and, despite overweight, was still as much photogenic on screen.
Between his two films released in 1996 (Red River and Dead Man’s Walk) and his wonderful interpretation of Pike Dexter in the film Big Eden in 2000, Eric Schweig experienced the longest break in his film career (4 years).
Director: Yves Boisset
Writer: Michel Leviant
Stars: Christophe Malavoy, Eric Schweig, Claudia Koll
It Waits is a 2005 American horror film starring Cerina Vincent. The film is about a female forest ranger, Danielle St. Claire,who encounters a terrible creature who has been killing people in the remote national forest where she works. When the creature attacks her isolated ranger station and kills her forest ranger boyfriend, she goes after the creature.
In this horror film, Eric Schweig plays a small supporting role. He appears only 5 minutes, 1 hour after the start of the film, and speaks throughout these 5 minutes. His character, Joseph Riverwind, a university professor in archeology “wearing Ralph Lauren”, is also looking for the creature, which his Aboriginal students have unfortunately released at the beginning of the film by blowing up the entrance to a cave. Riverwind gives valuable information to Danielle about this demon and the shamans who have accidentally summoned it from another world hundreds of years ago and then locked in this cave.
A few hours later, we find the unfortunate professor Riverwind impaled by the creature on a wooden branch in the middle of the road. The creature in the film is modeled after the Wakinyan or thunderbird that appears in myths from the Dakota people of North America., It Waits was filmed in November 2004 on location in the Watershed area about 25 miles east of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
Directed by Steven R. Monroe
Written by Richard Christian Matheson, Thomas E. Szollosi, and Stephen J. Cannell
Stars: Cerina Vincent, Dominic Zamprogna, Greg Kean, Eric Schweig.
In this period film, made in 1995 by Martin Davidson, Eric Schweig plays the role of a young Shawnee Indian chief named Wildcat. He co-starred with actress Sheryl Lee, who plays the role of the heroine, Mary Ingles, a true character in the American History.
The story takes place in the 18th century in the United States and is based on the novel by James Alexander Thom. The film begins by showing Will Ingles farm in the Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and his harmonious family life with his beloved wife, the beautiful Irish Mary, along with her step- mother, Mary’s younger brother and sister and his son Thomas. Mary is several months pregnant and one morning, she feels a strange premonition. A few hours later, the farm is attacked by Shawnee Indians, while Will and Mary’s brother went away to work on their land.
The Shawnees capture Mary, her son and her younger sister. During the long walk through the forest to the village of the Shawnees along the Ohio River, Mary feels that her husband is still alive and will starts looking for her. This thought gives her an unshakable courage to face the situation. Wildcat then noticed not only the beauty of Mary, but also her strength and determination to survive. When Mary stumbled on a rock, Wildcat rushes to help her. Their eyes meet and we see the obvious attraction of the young Indian chief for the beautiful Irish woman. Meanwhile, Will Ingles brings men to go in search for the captives.
While the group of Shawnees and prisoners continue their journey in the forest, Wildcat shows real concern for Mary, although he remains unforgiving for any sign of weakness on the part of his prisoners. So, when she has just given birth to her daughter at the foot of a grove of trees, he invites Mary to stand up and continue walking. Gathering her strength and still shaky, Mary obeyed, knowing that the only way to survive her captors is to show her strength. Conquered by Mary and her courage, Wildcat suddenly begins a humorous interlude, imitating a Shawnee mother during childbirth. This amazing scene, which clashes somewhat with the rest of the film, shows Eric Schweig perfectly comfortable with comedy and mime.
When the group arrives at the village of the Shawnees, Mary and her sister are well received by Wildcat’s mother. Some French settlers crossing the village, including a trader named Laplante, confirms to Mary that this gesture is a clear mark of the high esteem in which Wildcat carries her. Then Laplante hires Mary in his shop to make clothes, while his young Indian wife takes care of Mary’s baby. Although she adapts to the situation and welcomes with gratitude expressions of interest from the young Indian chief, Mary confirms to her younger sister, who now doubts the love of Mary for her husband, that she hates their captors and plays their game just to survive, with the aim of one day return home. Thus, when Wildcat offers her to marry him and raise her son as his own, she reminds her seductive captor that her son already has a father. In revenge for this refusal, Wildcat sells Mary and some other captives to the French settlers, keeping the son of Mary with him.
For the second part of the film, we do not see Eric Schweig again on the screen, except for the final scene. This second part shows the incredible journey of Mary, who fled into the forest with an old German woman, also sold to the French settlers by Wildcat. Equipped with only an ax and a blanket and following the river, the two women remake the perilous journey back to the farm of Mary. They are found in extremis by English settlers, half dead from hunger and cold. Mary and Will are finally reunited, their love still alive and intact.
In the final scene, a few months later, we see Wildcat arriving at the Ingles farm with Mary’s two children. He has brought them back safely to greet her incredible courage.
This film made for television by Hallmark Home Entertainment was shot almost entirely outdoors (Sapphire, North Carolina). Although it does not have the resources of a large production (the costumes are fairly rudimentary), the actors are well directed. Lee and Schweig show a strong bond on the screen, especially in the famous scene where Mary takes Wildcat’s measures to make him a coat, while he offers to become her companion.
The script, the shooting and the music of “Follow the River” sometimes refers to the movie “The Last of the Mohicans” in which Schweig played three years earlier. “Follow the River” is an epic of one woman’s grit, loyalty and determination and an “inspirational” saga of a pioneer woman.
Director: Martin Davidson
Writer: Jennifer Miller
Stars: Sheryl Lee, Ellen Burstyn, Eric Schweig, Tim Guinee, Renée O’Connor, Tyler Noyes, Tony Amendola.
“Tom and Huck” is a Walt Disney film realized in 1995 by Peter Hewitt. Based on the book by Mark Twain, it tells the story of a particularly mischievous boy, Tom Sawyer (Jonathan Taylor Thomas). Tom witnesses a murder by the deadly Injun Joe (Eric Schweig). Tom becomes friends with Huckleberry Finn (Brad Renfro), a boy with no future and no family. Tom has to choose between honoring a friendship or honoring an oath because the town alcoholic is accused of the murder. Tom and Huck go through several adventures trying to retrieve evidence.
The film opens with Injun Joe accepting a job from Doctor Robinson (William Newman). It is to dig a corpse to retrieve a map leading to a treasure. We see immediately that we better not mess with Injun Joe, because he does not hesitate to threaten his client to require more money to do the dirty work.
Eric Schweig offers a high level of performance to interpret this ugly character, so much so that at times he even gets a little too scary for a Disney movie for children. I’m especially thinking of the murder scene of Dr. Robinson, where Injun Joe runs with such a fury that it seems kind of offset from the rest of the film. If Tom Sawyer had nightmares about Injun Joe, young viewers of the film may undoubtedly have nightmares about him too.
The makeup team has also done a great job to make one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world (People magazine) in a particularly dirty, ugly and nasty character, which foreshadows the future Pesh-Chidin in “The Missing” (2003). In 1995, Schweig is also overweight and this adds to his imposing stature. With a particularly disgusting denture, Schweig changes his voice to refine the transformation.
After the murder of Dr. Robinson, Injun Joe did not hesitate to accuse an innocent man in his place and goes in search of the witness to the crime, Tom Sawyer, while he recovers the famous treasure: a chest full of gold coins. The confrontation between Injun Joe and Tom Sawyer is one of the best scenes of Eric Schweig on the screen. The intensity of his performance and the fury in his eyes are simply amazing.
Even though this is a movie aimed at a young audience, “Tom and Huck” is in my opinion one of the best movies of Eric Schweig with “Big Eden.”
Director: Peter Hewitt
Stars: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Brad Renfro, Eric Schweig.
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.
In September 1995, members of the Stoney Point Native community gathered in Ontario’s Ipperwash Provincial Park to protest a long-standing ancestral burial ground claim. In the end, protester Slippery George was almost beaten to death while Dudley George was shot dead by Ontario Provincial Police officer Kenneth Deane.
One Dead Indian is a gripping and timely television drama about this story, one of the most politically-charged events in Canadian history, followed by 10-year campaign to seek justice for the death of native protester Dudley George. The tragic story, based on Peter Edwards’ book One Dead Indian: The Premier, The Police and the Ipperwash Crisis, focuses on the Ipperwash Crisis, the tragic 1995 incident whose aftermath reverberated from Dudley George’s family and community to the halls of Queen’s Park. The movie, filmed in an area near Montreal in Quebec, stars Dakota House as Dudley George and Eric Schweig as Dudley’s brother Sam.
The real Sam George drove to Montreal in a motor home from Stoney Point (near Sarnia, Ontario) with honourary family member attorney Murray Klippenstein and ten other members from the George family, including three grandchildren. The vehicle broke down near Cornwall but that didn’t stop them from getting to set, after a quick repair job at a nearby mechanic’s shop. They were determined to see at least part of the making of One Dead Indian, a fictionalized version of the reality they’ve been living with for the past ten years. Sam George said he believes the film will touch people all over Canada, and that: “they would want to know this story”.
When the “two Sams” met, the real Sam George and Eric Schweig, who plays him, emotions ran high. The real Murray Klippenstein engaged in long talks with the actor who plays him, Stewart Bick; and Sam’s grandsons Cody George, Jerad Storr and Cameron George were all smiles when they met Dakota House, the actor who plays their uncle, the deceased hero Dudley George. Actor and activist Gary Farmer (who plays Judas George) also greeted Dudley and Sam’s brother, Sam’s wife Veronica George, his daughter Tammy Jackson and his son Don George. A great admirer of Sam George, Gabrielle Miller was honoured to have her picture taken alone with him for her own personal photo album. The energy on set was electric that day.
The interpretation of Eric Schweig in the role of Sam George is natural, true and moving. I must say that all the actors deliver a great performance in this film. The scenes in the court of justice are punctuated by flashbacks of what happened a year earlier, and by personal memories of Sam about his brother Dudley. Dudley’s death is particularly shocking, especially when arriving at the hospital by car, where members of his family – who are trying to save him by calling for help – were instead arrested and handcuffed by police, while Dudley is unconscious in a pool of blood on the back seat. Another touching scene of the film is delivered by Eric Schweig, while Sam performed in the hospital a tender purification ritual on the body of his brother Dudley.
Although the film denounces the slippage in police intervention at Ipperwash and the double standards justice, it does not fall into the Manichean stereotypes. It covers in relevant way the tensions between the First Nations and the Canadian authorities about land claims.
Director: Tim Southam
Writer: Hugh Graham, Andrew Wreggitt
Stars: Dakota House, Eric Schweig, Pamela Matthews, Bruce Ramsey, Stepen McHattie, Gary Farmer, Glen Gould, Gordon Tootoosis, Jennifer Podemski.
The film Big Eden (2000) by Thomas Bezucha is a wonderful film, which address the themes of love and homosexuality through tolerance, acceptance, kindness, friendship, humor and tenderness. Big Eden was a breakthrough film that finally depicted gay men of all shapes, sizes, and ages navigating the treacherous waters of love just like regular folks, with no over-the-top drama or any other stereotypically “gay” details thrown in just for laughs. It won awards in several gay and lesbian film festivals, and was nominated for best limited release film at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2002.
The film stars Arye Gross as Henry Hart, a successful, but lonely gay artist from New York City, who returns to his rural hometown in Montana, to care for his ailing grandfather, Sam Hart (George Coe). Henry is welcomed back by the townsfolk, all of whom are aware of his sexuality and are highly accepting and even supportive towards him (the film’s plot and dialogue is notably devoid of homophobic content). While at home, Henry is forced to confront his unresolved feelings for high school friend Dean Stewart (Tim DeKay), while simultaneously beginning to fall in love with Pike Dexter (Eric Schweig), the shy Native American owner of the Big Eden’s general store.
Eric Schweig won the Grand Jury Award Outfest as Outstanding Actor for his role as Pike Dexter in Big Eden. He appears on the screen fifteen minutes after the beginning of the film, when Henry, accompanied by his aunt, the angelic Grace Cornwell (Louise Fletcher) goes to the general store. Grace wishes to consult Pike for finding a solution regarding Sam’s meals, who returns from the hospital following a heart attack, and Henry’s meals, who do not cook at all. Pike proposes to ask the old widow Thayer (Nan Martin) to cook for them, but Grace insists that Pike should deliver the meals every day. Pike is a gentle being, a quiet and lonely man, which feels much better at home with his dog instead of being in the midst of the mob. He is also obviously very troubled by the presence of Henry, but he accepts to help Grace.
As the meals prepared by the widow Thayer are hardly appetizing, Pike decides to secretly cook better meals for Henry and his grandfather, and began to study some cookbooks with great application. At each delivery, Pike surreptitiously replaces the meals cooked by the widow Thayer for his own meals, much to the delight of Henry and Sam. Through his visits, Pike becomes more and more in love with Henry, but he seems so tormented by his feelings that the villagers give him support: the widow Thayer, who discovered his shenanigans and was touched by his dedication to Henry, as well as the old bunch of cowboys who used to hang out at the general store, come to help Pike to cook his sophisticated and elaborate recipes for Henry.
Because of his shyness and feelings, Pike always refuses Henry’s invitations to stay for dinner when delivering the meals at their home. But one day, while Sam is in bed, Henry really begs Pike to stay with him and keep him company. During dessert, Pike discovers one of the paintings of Henry in the next room. The work represents the stars of the Pleiades and Pike suddenly unravels; he starts telling an Onondaga myth associated with this constellation. This myth is about children exiled in heaven and transformed into stars, children which still remember their hometown and the unconditional love of their parents. So, they sometimes return to earth to see them again, as shooting stars. Henry is deeply touched by this story, which resembles his own exile in New York as well as the unconditional acceptance of his homosexuality expressed by his grandfather and all the other folks of Big Eden. Henry seems then to discover his emerging feelings for Pike, and the two heroes will open themselves gradually to love, but not without struggling first with their own fears.
The love and support that every inhabitant of Big Eden are sharing with other community members remind us that family ties, friendship, love, and especially the acceptance of others, transcend the barriers of generations, cultures and sexual inclinations. These unilateral tolerance and benevolence unfortunately do not exist in reality, but making them as credible and beautiful on the screen, Thomas Bezucha really makes us wish to become better human beings.
Dialogues, photography, screenplay, editing, casting and actor’s performances in this film are really great, but Eric Schweig steals the movie. His shyness and yearning for Henry is so heartfelt that we sincerely hoped to see him capture Henry’s affection.
Director: Thomas Bezucha
Writer: Thomas Bezucha
Stars: Arye Gross, Eric Schweig, Tim DeKay, Louise Fletcher, George Coe
-2001 Cleveland International Film Festival Best Film and Best American Independent Feature Film (Bezucha)
-2001 Florida Film Festival Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature (Bezucha)
-2000 L.A. Outfest Audience Award for Outstanding Narrative Feature (Bezucha) and Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actor in a Feature Film (Schweig)
-2001 Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Jury Award for Best Fiction Feature (Bezucha)
-2000 San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature (Bezucha)
-2000 Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival Audience Award for Favorite Narrative Feature (Bezucha)
-2001 Toronto Inside Out Lesbian and Gay Film and Video Festival for Best Feature Film or Video (Bezucha)
The 1994 Disney movie Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale, starring native actors Adam Beach and Eric Schweig, tells the 17th Century story of a high-born Indian warrior from a tribe on the Atlantic coast of North America, who has been taken to England against his will. He finally gets back; only to find his people decimated by a plague and English people living in what was once his home. He’s faced with the choice of joining another tribe in their attack on the Pilgrims or trying to make peace between the two sides.
In this film, Eric Schweig plays the secondary role of Epenow, the unfortunate companion of Squanto. If the main character played by Adam Beach is a likeable young man, impulsive and naive, Schweig’s Epenow is more mature and cunning; he carefully observes his enemy and constantly thinking of ways to take revenge on them.
Epenow appears after the first fifteen minutes of the film, when he finds himself tied up with Squanto to the bottom of a ship’s hold of the English, who kidnapped them from their villages. If the first words exchanged between the two protagonists suggest they are from rival tribes, they rapidly became accomplices against their captors.
Arrived in Plymouth in England, the two prisoners find suddenly themselves in a theatre. Squanto is thrown into the arena with a bear to entertain the crowd, but he managed to make a diversion and escapes with Epenow. In the wild ride that follows through the streets of Plymouth, Epenow injured his leg and ordered Squanto to flee without him.
After this separation, the experiences of the two protagonists with the English prove diametrically opposed. Squanto was rescued, cared for, housed and integrated into a community of peaceful monks, while Epenow is again captured by the English soldiers, who treat him like a zoo animal. Epenow does not yet let down. He watches and listens and he finally learns the language of his jailers. Seeing how they are greedy, treacherous and contemptuous, he tells them that there’s gold – lots of gold – in his village in America. This is obviously a lie, but Epenow thus succeeded in convincing them to take him home.
Learning the departure of a boat to New England, the monks develop a plan to enable Squanto to stow away and thus regain his native village. Epenow and Squanto then find themselves on the same ship that brings them back to North America, but Squanto has changed: he learned to forgive from the monks, while Epenow is still burning to avenge the evil that the English have done to his people.
The boat finally arrives on the shores of America, near the village of Epenow. During the celebration that follows the reunion of the warrior with his village, the tension is high and one feels that something is up. During the night, Squanto wakes with a start: he discovers that the tribe of Epenow set fire to the boat while the English crew was asleep inside. Disgusted by this horrible revenge, Squanto confronts Epenow. Unabated, the latter invited him to go to his own village to see what the English have done. So Squanto hand for his village. Upon arrival, he discovers a scene of desolation: everything is destroyed, there is no one left. Epenow was right and Squanto, now frantic with grief, decides to turn for revenge.
It will be the nearby colony, being built by new English settlers that will untie the story. Lurking in the woods, Squanto discovers Epenow and his warriors hiding in front of the colony. The attack is imminent, but Squanto takes a new decision. He gets up and walks disarmed between the settlers and Epenow’s warriors, pleading for peace once and for all. Unfortunately, the young son of Epenow charge anyway, and a colon fires on him. It is now the doctor of the colony who walks disarmed between the settlers and the warriors, to offer assistance and treat the wounded. Epenow, consumed by anger and fear of losing his son, launches this threat to the doctor: if his son dies, all the settlers would be killed.
Fortunately, thanks to the good care of the doctor, the good care of the medicine-man of the tribe, the prayers of the colonists and the songs of Epenow’s people, the young man healed, and peace between the English and the Indians is finally concluded.
If the story is improbable, costumes and native music are just as unlikely. What are these costumes?? What are these songs??? To play his character, Eric Schweig is often decked with feathers and flashy trinkets that seem to make him really uncomfortable. Moreover, in this Manichean opposition of good and evil / forgiveness and revenge, the secondary characters around Squanto and Epenow are so pushed to caricature that they become ludicrous at times.
Eric Schweig’s good interpretation of his character is all in the suppressed anger, from the beginning to the end, except for a rare and touching moment of tenderness when Epenow finds that his injured son is finally out of danger and he kisses him on the forehead. But every time I see the movie, I cannot conclude with certainty whether Eric-Epenow’s rage is for his enemies the English, or for his strange feather ornaments 😉
Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale in Black and White
Director: Xavier Koller
Writer: Darlene Craviotto
Stars: Adam Beach, Eric Schweig, Mandy Patinkin, Michael Gambon, Nathaniel Parker.
In the province of Quebec, during Fall 2011 and Spring 2012, Eric Schweig plays one of the main characters for the new movie Maïna, a story of a spiritual journey a young woman undertakes in the Great North 3,500 years ago. The script is directly inspired by Dominique Demers novel Maïna. Beyond stunning images and landscapes, Maïna unfolds as an adventure film, coupled with a love story. Maïna is “a film about the knowledge of the other, which plays a lot of similarity and dissimilarity between two completely different cultures, the Innu and Inuit”, said director Michel Poulette. The story unfolds through scenes of hunting, battles and love, bringing characters dressed in period costumes, in a very realistic production.
Maïna (Roseanne Supernault) is the daughter of the Innu leader Mishtenapuu (Graham Greene), who attends a bloody confrontation between his clan and the clan of “Men of the Land of Ice.” Following this confrontation, Maïna chooses a mission that will change her life. To fulfill the promise that she has made to her friend Matsii on her deathbed, she embarked on the trail of their enemies to deliver Nipki (Uapshkuss Thernish), a 11 year old boy that the Inuit have captured. But she was also taken as prisoner by Natak (Ipellie Ootoova) and his brother-in-law Quujuuq (Eric Schweig), and forcibly taken to the Land of Ice.
The forty days of shooting for Maïna took place in the vast natural cathedrals of Mingan Park on the North Shore of Quebec, including the edge of the Magpie River, and the desert areas of northern Quebec (Nunavik). Maïna moved into production in Kuujjuaq in May 2012. “Planning the film’s segments in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, on Quebec’s north shore, and in Kuujjuaq, proved to be a cross-cultural experience that everyone involved in the film embraced”, says producer Yves Fortin.
In an artistic choice that honors Mr. Poulette, he has argued that all the characters in the film had to speak Innu and Inuktitut. In short, no strange accent to discuss in the languages in question, a Hollywood fad that Graham Greene has parodied in the comedy Maverick. To minimize the use of subtitles, the dialogues were minimized. A silence, a look, it also speaks. No character will be doubled, so we will hear Eric Schweig speaks Inuktitut, the language of his ancestors, for the first time on screen.
Scheduled for release in Fall 2013, the French subtitled version of Maïna will be distributed by Equinoxe in Quebec and possibly in France, and its English subtitled version will be distributed by Union Picture in Canada and, if all goes well, in the United States as well.
Director Michel Poulette from Productions Nuit Blanche, and Danny Bergeron from the Canadian production company Wizzfilms, argue that this production is a first film collaboration between white, Innu and Inuit. The Innu, through their leader Jean-Charles Piétacho and Innu Council of Ekuanitshit (Mingan), as well as the Inuit, through the leader Pita Aatami, President of Makivik Corporation, decided to support the project to the point of becoming co-producers.
Screenplay: Pierre Billon
Production: Michel Poulette
Stars: Roseanne Supernault (Maïna), Tantoo Cardinal, Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Ipellie Ootoova, Natar Ungalaaq and Uapshkuss Thernish.
Mr. Barrington is a dramatic thriller directed by Dana Packard, starring Jennifer Nichole Porter, Brian McCardieand Eric Schweig. The film centers around the lives of Lila, an acutely agoraphobic poet going through a bout of writer’s block, and her husband, Samuel, who is only vaguely aware of his wife’s psychological troubles. When Lila hears a noise coming from her front porch one morning, her subsequent investigation reveals Mr. Barrington, a charming and oddly familiar man atop an old-fashioned bicycle. Lila becomes obsessed with Mr. Barrington’s increasingly surreal visits, and her mental health deteriorates even further. Unable to continue ignoring Lila’s problems, Samuel pays a visit to the dreary orphanage where Lila was raised as a child. Once there, the convent director reluctantly reveals a shocking piece of history.
Mr. Barrington is a strange, touching and very personal film that I found very interesting. The three main actors are truly excellent. My only downside about this is that Jennifer Nichole Porter is playing so well the child inside of her character that it removes almost completely the real woman on the screen. She speaks, moves and reacts just like a frightened child of 10 years.
Consequently, even if Eric Schweig is perfect in the role of the tender and loving husband, one really wonders where is this woman he loves so much in the film. All expressions of affection between the spouses are also deliberately deprived of any sensuality during the film, as if the director wanted to make sure that we see the wounded and vulnerable child in Lila’s adult body. The process is so extreme that the marital relationship between Lila and Samuel appeared to me very unlikely. The “woman Lila” appears to us only at the end of the film, when she finally tells Samuel the drama of her childhood.
Besides the two main characters (Lila and Mr. Barrington) that are particularly cryptic and intense, the character played by Eric Schweig appears quite realistic. Samuel is a carpenter and worked in a small sawmill, where other workers despise him. Perhaps because of his artistic talent? Samuel has a passion for drawing. During his breaks, he drew Lila’s face endlessly in his sketchbook, as if he was trying to penetrate the secrets of his wife’s thoughts through each pencil stroke. Poor Samuel, he is very lonely between his wife who is lost in her imaginary world, and his colleagues who ostracize him.
Samuel is a sweet and gentle giant, full of compassion, carefully holding a wounded bird in his hand (by the way, the credits of the film begins on an old engraving of St. Francis of Assisi surrounded by birds…). Samuel tries to understand the mental trouble of his wife with all his love, without ever losing contact with reality, but also without escaping a deep sadness in front of the growing pain of Lila. The kind of deep sadness Eric Schweig excels particularly well to express in his films. But rest assured, Samuel’s steadfast love for Lila overcomes Mr. Barrington…
Director: Dana Packard
Writer: Jennifer Nichole Porter
Stars: Jennifer Nichole Porter, Eric Schweig and Brian McCardie
The Broken Chain is an American historical drama, produced in 1993 for television by Lamont Johnson. In this film, Eric Schweig took the leading role for the first time in his career, playing the famous Iroquois Chief Joseph Brandt / Thayendanegea. At his side, we find Pierce Brosnan (Sir William Johnson, New York’s agent to the Iroquois for the British Empire), Wes Studi (Seth, Chief and Speaker for the Tribes), Buffy Sainte-Marie (Gesina, Seth’s Wife and Head of the Mother’s Council), JC White Shirt (Lohaheo, Thayendanegea’s friend and brother in battle), Elaine Bilstad (Catherine, Gesina’s granddaughter and Thayendanegea’s first love), Graham Greene (two brief and silent appearances as the spirit of The Peace Maker). The story is set in the 18th century. While the Revolutionary War rages, two Iroquois brothers battle with settlers moving into new territory. Joseph Brant / Thayendanegea, a young Mohawk warrior, fought valiantly to drive the French out of America. He is thus noticed by Sir William Johnson, who sent him in an English school. But Joseph’s new allegiance to the British Empire will pose serious problems on his return to his tribe.
Eric Schweig starts the film with a voiceover narration, describing a brief history of the Six Nations of the Iroquois League and their “Great Peace” (which inspired the political model of the United States). Nathan Lee embodies Joseph Brant for these first chapters showing the teenage years of the future Iroquois leader. Eric Schweig appears later in the film, at the Battle of Fort Carillon.
This role as a warrior was perfectly fits for Eric Schweig’s stature, but it did not offer him many opportunities to develop his character. Therefore, Eric Schweig keeps his famous fierce and impenetrable facial expression almost throughout the entire film. There are other problems regarding direction of actors in this movie: Pierce Brosnan and Buffy Sainte-Marie accentuates their acting sometimes way too much.
Still, Eric Schweig has some intimate moments in The Broken Chain where he can play in a more nuanced way. I’m thinking especially of the two dialogues with Buffy Sainte-Marie, the one where Joseph asks for Catherine’s hand, and the one where, after suffering Catherine’s refusal, he decides to leave the village, with obvious emotional pain.
It is also interesting to compare some of Eric Schweig’s lines of dialogue in The Broken Chain with some of his lines in his recent role as Bug in Kissed by Lightning (2009) by Mohawk artist and filmmaker Shelley Niro. In The Broken Chain, after destroying the village of a Delaware tribe, Joseph Brant brought back a captive, Peggy (Grace Renn) and he falls in love with her. In his declaration of love in the canoe that brings them back to his village, when he said “I want you to be happy, I want to make you happy,” I heard in my head the same sentence said by Eric Schweig in Niro’s film. The comparison shows the enormous progress made by the actor since his beginning.
The unusual element of the film is the prosthesis on Eric Schweig’s forehead during the second part of The Broken Chain. Iroquois men were accustomed to shave their heads, but it was of course out of the question that Eric Schweig cuts his beautiful long hair for the role of Joseph Brant. The movie team therefore applied a prosthetic front on his head to give the impression that he had shaved half of his skull. The result was a disaster. Joseph Brant looks more like a Klingon from Star Trek than an Iroquois, but Eric Schweig keeps the dignity of his character in spite of this strange thing on his forehead, and even managed to move us in his speech at the end of the film, when Brandt admits his mistake in giving his trust to the English who have betrayed and abandoned his people.
In conclusion, The Broken Chain is not the best of Eric Schweig’s movies. The sets, editing and cinematography are classic and well done, the story is well told and puts forward the views and values of First Nations (especially the Iroquois matriarchy), so, for these reasons, the film deserves to be watched with attention. By the way, Eric Schweig praises The Broken Chain for having three Native American co-producers and eight Iroquois consultants who were meticulous in their attention to historical details.
Interestingly, Eric Schweig again embodied Joseph Brant on the screen seven years later (although very briefly), this time in the television series Canada: A People’s History (2000).
The Broken Chain in Black and White
The Broken Chain Movie Stills
Director: Lamont Johnson
Writer: Earl W. Wallace
Actors: Eric Schweig, Pierce Brosnan, Wes Studi, Buffy Sainte-Marie, J.C. White Shirt, Elaine Bilstad, Graham Greene.
During my studies in cinema, I must admit that despite all the knowledge I learned, I never managed to get interested in American historical epic motion pictures, and they still continue to bother me today. However, a blog dedicated to Eric Schweig cannot avoid posting about The Last of the Mohicans, and about its crucial impact on Eric Schweig’s career. The role of Uncas, although secondary and virtually silent, has propelled him to stardom.
The Last of the Mohicans is about three trappers protecting a British Colonel’s daughters in the midst of the French and Indian War. As the English and French soldiers battle for control of the North American colonies in the 18th century, the settlers and native Americans are forced to take sides. Cora and her sister Alice unwittingly walk into trouble but are saved by Hawkeye, an orphaned settler adopted by the last of the Mohicans.
I am still deeply disturbed by the Hollywood “Tonto”, “Indian Blood-Thirsty” and “Noble Savage” stereotypes carried by this movie from the 1990s, but for the purposes of this post, I played my old VHS cassette of The Last of the Mohicans (often using the fast forward button though…), in order to go beyond what everyone already knows: Eric Schweig was of magnetic beauty and presence in this film.
We all know what beauty is, but how do we define an actor’s “presence”? This rare quality often escapes theory and definitions. It is often confused with energy, photogenic, corporeal theatrical power or charisma. In the case of Eric Schweig in The Last of the Mohicans, the severity of his expression and the weight of his silence create a striking contrast with the palpable unrest and nervousness expressed by other main characters in the movie. Uncas stands out like if he was “the eye in the middle of the storm”, a kind of axis at the center of a vast epic drama vortex. Therefore, it was necessary that this axis (Uncas) looked particularly strong, quiet and calm, otherwise the emotional energy of this large-scale movie would have exploded in all directions. The casting department has done a good job here, Eric Schweig had the perfect physical characteristics to play this kind of axis.
The film seems to be conceived as a sphere containing a violent swirling storm. The envelope (or periphery) of the sphere is yet perfectly calm, grand and majestic, to create the necessary sublimation of the violent scenes that take place inside. This calm envelope is in fact the natural landscape of the film, shot beautifully by the director of photography Dante Spinotti. For the sphere retains its balance and stands as a coherent world, the envelope of the storm (the landscape) and its “eye” or axis (Uncas) had to be aesthetically similar: quiet, magnificent and majestic. The choice of Eric Schweig in this regard was therefore highly relevant.
Michael Mann, the director, pushes further the correlation between the axis and the envelope of the sphere (between Uncas and the landscape) by dressing Uncas in the same kind of green as the surrounding forest. Also, in the opening scene of the film where the protagonists hunt a deer, the first close-up of Uncas shows him in a kind of mystical communion with the dead animal lying at his feet. One understands immediately that Uncas has his own secret inner world, spiritually connected to nature, which contributes to put him aside the main turbulent narrative, filled with flesh, blood and heightened feelings. Again, it places him in “the eye of the storm “and in a pivotal role at the calm center of the story.
The director of The Last of the Mohicans uses another trick to reinforce the pivotal role of Uncas: to my knowledge, he gave Eric Schweig the only “look into the camera” scene of the film, in the sequence near a river where Uncas looks at Alice and is attracted to her for the first time. In classic movies, the “look into the camera” is usually taboo, because it breaks the convention of the closed and imaginary world of the film (the diegetic space). As a spectator, when we are suddenly “watched” by one of the actors, we realize our awkward position of voyeur. But to get a real “look into the camera” that breaks this convention, the actor must look at the camera without another actor (or object), which may be required as the recipient of that look. Editing in The Last of the Mohicans clearly indicates that Uncas was looking at Alice, not “us”, so, the director has instead used the “look into the camera”s power of “phasing”. If it avoids breaking the film’s convention, this “phasing” places Uncas even more off the reality in which all the other characters evolve, and locates him in a floating and undefined space-time outside the temporality of the narrative.
Michael Mann also used another film technique to accentuate this strange effect around Uncas: the slow motion in the sequence behind the falls, when Uncas took Alice into his arms. This brief change of rhythm in the temporality of the film contributes once again to exit Uncas in this quiet and mysterious place at the center of the turmoil.
Finally, the symmetry of the opening scene (the deer killed falling from a bank) and the closing scene (Uncas falling from the cliff, again mystically connected in his own death to the deer of the first scene), allows the envelope of the sphere (the landscape) and its axis (Uncas) to collide, reaching a huge emotional implosion which appeases the tension of the film and ends the epic.
Contrary to some reviews, I think that Eric Schweig was not simply displaying his breathtaking beauty in The Last of the Mohicans, despite the lack of space offered to Uncas in the script (1). I think he understood very well (intuitively or consciously, I do not know…) the challenge of this axis role by exploiting his “presence” and by acting fairly and steadily, with the necessary subtle expressions: natural humanity and tenderness in the scenes with the Camerons and Alice / discrete fraternal complicity with the hero / strength and concentration without emphasis in the fight scenes. He would have acted with more intensity, and the “eye of the storm” would have moved into the vortex of the action and created chaos instead of spiral energy. He would have acted with less intensity, and Uncas would have completely lost the little substance he has, and the axis would have collapsed on itself, leaving the film without balance.
During my studies in cinema, the teachers taught us how each element of decoration, each color, each object in a film could bring an unexpected symbolic meaning which could influence the message carried by the script, as a kind of narrative underlying. A director must be aware of this phenomenon and control all visuals and narrative aspects of his film if he wants to preserve his original message. All cinematic devices used in the film to highlight Uncas for the structural needs of the scenario contributed to throw the spotlight on Eric Schweig’s performance which, while not spectacular or mature, has therefore taken a surprising and fascinating aura.
The Last of the Mohicans in Black and White
The Last of the Mohicans BEHIND THE SCENE
Director: Michael Mann
Writer: James Fenimore Cooper (novel)
Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Madeleine Stowe, Eric Schweig, Russell Means, Jodhi May, Wes Studi, Steven Waddington.
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(1) The original script had several scenes for Uncas that have been cut during editing, including a rather explicit love scene with Alice.
Yesterday, I watched the movie Mr.Soul by director Jeremy Torrie on APTN. Eric Schweig plays the role of Steve Lonethunder, the father of Shirley Lonethunder, a native girl of 18 reported missing. This dramatic film looks at a serial killer whose murder of Aboriginal women went unreported and ignored by police and media.
This is a difficult film to watch sometimes, but absolutely necessary. “The movie is based on Warren Goulding’s 2001 book, Just Another Indian – A Serial Killer and Canada’s Indifference. Goulding’s book is a stinging indictment of Canadian society’s cold indifference to the plight of so many aboriginal women. John Martin Crawford, a hulking, greasy, lowlife drifter, was serving life in a Saskatchewan penitentiary for killing three aboriginal prostitutes in Saskatoon in the 1990s. Years earlier, he did time for manslaughter for the death of another prostitute in Lethbridge. He is suspected of several other killings. At the time of the case, Crawford was the second-most deadly serial killer in Canadian history, next to depraved child-murderer Clifford Olson. Why? Because his victims were native women working the streets – hardly worth worrying about. Crawford knew this, and specifically targeted aboriginal prostitutes because they’re far less likely to be undercover cops, and besides, he rationalized, nobody would miss them anyway.” Vancouver Eastside Missing Women
In the film, this serial killer preys on prostitutes from the mean streets of a small, mid-west city as the police turn a blind eye. With an insatiable sexual appetite, the killer brutalizes his victims and leaves their bodies at Moon Lake outside of town. A voice inside the killer’s head commands him to kill, his victims beg for death. John Martin Crawford is only too happy to oblige. But Moon Lake happens to be a spiritual holy ground for the local Native Americans, and soon the victims’ ghosts are haunting both family members and complete strangers in desperate pleas for justice so their souls may rest. A supernatural story that reminds us the dead are not powerless.
Even if, in some scenes of the film, we feel that Eric Schweig loses focus and contact with his character, his acting is memorable in the scene of the sweat lodge, where Steve Lonethunder invokes his missing daughter to ask for her forgiveness. The complex emotions of his character are expressed with moving eloquence by Eric Schweig, through his legendary deep voice. Gordon Tootoosis, another great actor, is solemn with the right tone in his role as spiritual guide and healer , and the young actress playing the role of Shirley Lonethunder (April Seenie) is disarmingly natural.
Director: Jeremy Torrie
Writer: Jeremy Torrie
Actors: Eric Schweig, Gordon Tootoosis, April Seenie, Mike Butters, John Kapelos, Lois Brothers, Monika Schurmann, David Stuart Evans, Darcy Fehr, Deena Fontaine, Rachel Seenie, Rayne Jimmy, Stan Lesk, Holly Bernier, Dellarees Sawanash.