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July 2010

Tattoos: A Scarred History

featuring: David Carradine, Julie Benz, Billy Boyd, Zandra Rhodes, and Darryn Lyons

director: S.J. Evans

97 minutes (15) 2009
widescreen ratio 16:9
4Digital DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 8/10
review by Sandra Scholes

Tattoos: A Scarred History

For those of a nervous disposition this documentary may not be their sort of thing, as many people might find body modification scenes disturbing. However, for those who already have tattoos, or for those who are just interested in them this will be an exciting look at the history of tattoos over the past few years. The reason for the documentary is that's part of Sousila Pilay's quest to find out why a once taboo art form has taken the world by storm so quickly.

The key to understanding tattoo art today is discovering that many of today's fashion and film icons are sporting them - from Kate Moss, Pink, and Angelina Jolie, to David Beckham and Jon Bon Jovi. It seems to encourage young women and men to copy them in order to try and look as good as their icons. Many think it stands for something personal in their life and they want them to be permanent to show that, while others such as mothers and fathers have tattoos on their bodies of their newborn's faces for posterity. The art is varied, and numerous on some as they are easily bitten by the bug of getting more tattoos done.

In Tattoos: A Scarred History, many stars who have tattoos are interviewed in this documentary including Lord Of The Rings actor Billy Boyd who furnishes the interviewer with details of his own tattoo of the number nine in 'elvish' on his ankle symbolising the prosthetic hobbit feet he wore constantly when he was filming the three blockbuster movies. He also mentions the other actors who got the same tattoo, such as Orlando Bloom, but got them done on different parts of their body. Other interviews are conducted with Warwick Davis of Willow who has his own story to tell, and Brad Dourif, of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest fame, who always loved the look of tattoo art but decided not to get any done.

Everyone is different, though, and this documentary shows that there are many who like tattoos for what they are - a true art form exhibited on the body for everyone else to marvel at. The film notes there are good and bad tattoos, ones that can cover up scarring, or what has been painful surgery, while the rest of the piece goes on to discuss body augmentation, piercing at its most basic: earrings, nose rings and tongue piercing to the more extreme end of the scale: all over body piercing and whole back piercing to name a few.

Producer and narrator Sousila Pilay has also worked on in her short career as a bit part actress in Casualty, and Born To Be Wild, and has been assistant director on Most Haunted, and Ghost Hunting With Girls Aloud. And although the narration seems amateur, Sousila gets the point of the whole show across easily enough even to those who don't have tattoos. She gives those new to the tattoo scene a varied insight into what all the fuss is about and why it has been so taboo over the past few years. No longer is it the crude visual cartoon look on the arms, chests and backs of old sailors who thought it was used as a form of protection - it is more universal than anyone first thought.

Bonus material for this DVD includes an official trailer, Leather Zoo's Stranger music video, Tattoo History 101 Animation, raw and uncut interviews with the guest stars, Angelwish video featuring Kyra Sedgwick, and deleted interviews: police discrimination. Is it art?



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