Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Three Identical Strangers

Tim Wardle'sThree Identical Strangers is about an unethical experiment. Identical triplets born on July 12, 1961, put up for adoption, were farmed to families who had no knowledge of the existence of siblings. Whether the experiment was testing theories of nature versus nurture, parenting, or perhaps even the heritability of mental illness are all subjects that are dealt with in the film. However the underlying paradox is that the Jewish agency which was involved in placing the children and underwriting the experiment was following in the footsteps of Nazis like Joseph Mengele who also performed similarly inhumane studies on twins. Were those involved as impervious to human life as the Nazis? Obviously not, but the harmful effect on the subjects the movie describes was great. Infants who were summarily separated from each other experienced life-long problems and there’s a particularly tragic circumstance that the film underscores that may have resulted directly from the experiment's methodology. Apparently, there was quite a method to the madness with children being placed in varying socio-economic milieus to test environmental versus genetic factors. The movie is a docudrama which uses real life footage and subjects, but it begins in a carnivalesque atmosphere. Two of the brothers Bobby and Eddie discover each other by accident and tabloid coverage of the meeting leads to a reunion with the third. The threesome appear on TV and even have an appearance with Madonna in Desperately Seeking SusanAt first genetics seems to be the winner. All three like the same kind of girls, smoke Marlboros and wrestle. Their mannerisms and movements, including the way they hold their hands, are unmistakably alike. They become regulars on New York’s nightclub circuit during the early 80’s and even start a restaurant. It’s a little like the bearded lady in the circus. The bizarreness is entertaining until it becomes apparent that there's a price to be paid. And the similarities recede when the relationship among the three unravels.The whole study in question is still wrapped in mystery. Originally the data had been sealed until 2066, though two of the living brothers have been successful in petitioning for disclosure. But how many twins or triplets, who may been subjects, are still out in the world with no knowledge of their others?

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