Barkskins examines the mysterious massacre of settlers in the vast and unforgiving wilds of 1690s New France that threatens to throw the region into all-out war. Likely suspects abound, the English, the Hudson's Bay Company and a band of Kanien'kehá:ka (Iroquois) possibly in league with the English looking to drive the French from the territory, but who or what brought these settlers to such a tragic end?
National Geographic's new eight-part limited series, Barkskins, created by Elwood Reid and based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Annie Proulx, transports viewers to the wild frontier of the late 17th century. Barkskins premieres this Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, at 9/8c with back-to-back episodes over four weeks.
Barkskins is set in Wobik, a small settlement in what is now the Canadian province of Quebec. As the Catholic Church sends Jesuit priests to convert the indigenous people, France sends indentured servants to populate its territory, along with "Filles Du Roi" ("Daughters of the King"), young women to be matched with husbands, start families and help the colonies prosper. This disparate group of outcasts, rogues and innocents must navigate brutal hardships, competing interests and tangled loyalties at the crossroads of civilization: 1690s New France.
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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, comes the New York Times bestselling epic about the demise of the world's forests: Barkskins is grand entertainment in the tradition of Dickens and Tolstoy...the crowning achievement of Annie Proulx's distinguished career, but also perhaps the greatest environmental novel ever written" (San Francisco Chronicle).
In the late seventeenth century two young Frenchmen, René Sel and Charles Duquet, arrive in New France. Bound to a feudal lord for three years in exchange for land, they become wood-cutters-barkskins. René suffers extraordinary hardship, oppressed by the forest he is charged with clearing. He is forced to marry a native woman and their descendants live trapped between two cultures. But Duquet runs away, becomes a fur trader, then sets up a timber business. Annie Proulx tells the stories of the descendants of Sel and Duquet over three hundred years-their travels across North America, to Europe, China, and New Zealand-the revenge of rivals, accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, and cultural annihilation. Over and over, they seize what they can of a presumed infinite resource, leaving the modern-day characters face to face with possible ecological collapse.
You can check out the key art, posters and photos from Barkskins direct from National Geographic.