National Geographic has announced a new historical drama, Barkskins will air this weekend.
The 8 part limited series set in the North American frontier in the 17th century is created by Elwood Reid and based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Annie Proulx.
“Barkskins is a primeval story of survival and the quest to build a civilisation out of the endless forest,” said Elwood Reid, creator and executive producer. “The settlers who have come to seek their fortune in the vast and unforgiving ‘New World’ – the landless poor, street urchins, religious seekers, rapacious traders and the penniless young women hoping to marry into land and wealth – are met with the brutal reality of their dreams as they attempt to carve their place in it. They find themselves in the forest of the world, a dark and uncaring place, long settled by indigenous nations who view their arrival with disdain, and a recognition that an alliance with these disparate newcomers is increasingly necessary for survival.”
Barkskins transports viewers to the wild North American frontier of the late 17th century called ‘New France’ and examines a mysterious massacre of settlers in the vast and unforgiving wilds 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?
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 civilisation: 1690s New France.
The series tells a thrilling story of exploration, adventure and ambition among dreamers and fighters — some with a utopian vision of the world, others crass and conniving, but all navigating the perils of a treacherous new frontier. As tensions escalate, unlikely alliances are forged, old antagonisms deepen and new families are formed against the seemingly endless natural riches and hidden dangers of the new American continent. Barkskins’ depiction of the collision between civilisation and commerce is timeless, as is its spirit of adventure, natural wonder and survival of the fittest.
Premiering globally in 172 countries and 43 languages, the eight-episode historical fiction limited series hails from Fox 21 Television Studios and Scott Rudin Productions, and is based on the bestselling novel by Pulitzer Prize winner Proulx. The series stars David Thewlis (“Wonder Woman”) as “Claude Trepagny,” Marcia Gay Harden (“The Newsroom”) as “Mathilde Geffard,” Aneurin Barnard (“Dunkirk”) as “Hamish Goames,” James Bloor (“Dunkirk”) as “Charles Duquet,” Christian Cooke (“Point Blank”) as “Rene Sel,” David Wilmot (“The Alienist”) as “Constable Bouchard,” Thomas M. Wright (“The Bridge”) as “Elisha Cooke,” Tallulah Haddon (“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”) as “Melissande,” Kaniehtiio (Tiio) Horn (“The Man in the High Castle”) as “Mari,” Lily Sullivan (“Picnic at Hanging Rock”) as “Delphine” and Zahn McClarnon (“Fargo”) as “Yvon.”
Series creator Reid (“The Bridge”) also serves as showrunner and executive producer. Scott Rudin (“No Country for Old Men”), Garrett Basch (“The Night Of”), Eli Bush (“Lady Bird”), David Slade (“Black Mirror: Bandersnatch”) and Proulx are also executive producers.
Proulx is the author of eight books, including the novel “The Shipping News” and the story collection “Close Range.” Her many honours include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and a PEN/Faulkner Award. Her story “Brokeback Mountain,” which originally appeared in The New Yorker, was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film.
Barkskins premieres on Friday June 19 AEST, with the series being made available as a boxset on Foxtel and Fetch TV video on demand platform.
The series will also be broadcast from 12.30pm Sunday June 21 AEST, with all episodes aired back to back in a marathon event on National Geographic.