Director: Tim Wardle
Cinematographer: Tim Cragg
‘Three Identical Strangers’ is truly one of the most unbelievable stories I’ve ever heard. It’s not only the fact that they found each other but why and how they were separated and never told. The coverup story leads to so many thought-provoking questions about upbringing, what makes us unique, and exposes one of the more dastardly evil coverups of the last century.
Tim Wardle managed to take this incredible story. This heartwarming, loving story about triplets finding each other, by easing us in with the same interest and infatuation the world once showed these triplets through the media and then turning it completely on its head with the sad truth behind their split. The editing allowed us to experience in the same vein as the people themselves.
The first hour of the film is sheer joy. Watching reunited triplets instantly become best friends as they discover their similarities is wild. It’s a media whirlwind, and the pacing exacerbates this in the film. It does a great job of showing the explosion of enthusiasm around this story during that time, and how that moment if fleeting.
Next, after the media circus ends comes the meat of the story and one of the most surreal experiences I can even imagine. Once the lights dim down, once the enthusiasm wears off, what happens to three strangers that have been suddenly placed into this new life? What are the repercussions of their split and why were they split? The film takes a turn down a dark path of an unethical nature that has only been seen during the worst time in human history.
This idea of having life predetermined and not having that control that we so desperately crave. This idea is at the center of their situation, and peeling back the layers of this story exposes pretty horrifying information regarding that idea. The pure truth behind it all is mind-blowing. The fact that this happened in the early 1960’s and the lengths that these organizations would go to hide this information.
Nature vs Nurture
However, the ultimate findings and explanation behind their split led to some incredibly valuable data on how we develop as human beings. In the world of psychology, this was everything. The worst part is, despite what these people did to these children, none of that information was published and the results of all this were the broken mental state of kids facing separation anxiety and growing up in counter-intuitive environments that led to problems down the line.
Now, without the results of the study, we can still get a clear understanding of how the actions are taken on these triplets affected each one individually. The film starts by showing off all their many similarities, on the outside layer, but digging down deeper showed some jarring differences and helped explain why they struggle so heavily with depression in their adult lives.
As the film slowly reveals small bits of information, the puzzle pieces fill into place. Learning about the three different types of homes they grew up in stood out almost immediately because it covered every possible socio-economic class with very different times of parenting techniques. And this film constantly raises the question of “nature vs nurture,” and despite the results of the study never being published, how the triplets life turned out is a big indication of how each aspect of upbringing impacts a child.
Three Identical Strangers is one of the most fascinating documentaries I’ve ever seen. It’s surreal and so enjoyable to experience it similarly to how the people in the story experienced it. It also raises so many questions about the nature of these studies and raises an eye to unethical practices displayed in this film
This film displays the goodness and point of the medium of film. It exposed a horrifying practice and essentially made them fess up to the human crime committed on these unknowing children. The fact that this could be a reality for others out there is incredibly sad. It’s absolutely one of my favorite films of the year and one I highly recommend checking out.