Most Americans old enough to remember the 1980’s will be familiar with the story of the triplets separated at birth and adopted by different families who then by sheer fluke found each other when they were 19 years old. However, most of the media coverage at that time and the endless round of TV Chat Shows that made instant celebrities of the identical-looking brothers, focused on the joy that everyone was getting from this rather extraordinary reunion, and not on the rather sinister reasons why they had been split up in the first place.
This new rather gripping documentary from filmmaker Tim Wardle starts off with their joyous reunion but then goes much deeper into how and why they were placed with the families who raised them and his findings are very disturbing, to say the least. The ‘boys’ Bobby Shafran, Eddy Galland, and David Kellman were carefully put into three completely different social environments with the families deliberately chosen by the Jewish adoption agency, Louise Wise Services. None of the new parents had any idea of the other two boy’s existence.
As Wardle digs away at the story he even interviews Dr. Peter Neubauer, the psychologist who was behind the experimental study of which they were all unwitting participants and he also meanwhile uncovers the stories of other twins that also had been separated at birth by the same adoption agency.
As the triplets grow into men, their initial euphoria at finding each other starts to wane as their very different childhoods has obviously impacted their attitudes to life in general which finally has a rather devastating consequence.
What is really disturbing is not just the sheer layers of secrecy that Neubauer and Louise Wise shrouded the project in, but their reasons which are never really revealed, of why they chose to play God and potentially ruin lives for the sake of their experiments in the first place. It all very uncomfortable and seems a tad too reminiscent of some of the early experiments that the Nazi Dr. Mengeles started.
Now the brothers are embroiled in a long legal fight to get access to the official records of their past and the ‘experiment’ in the hope that they can not only expose all the inequities of the situation but also finally get some peace from the closure that hopefully that it will bring.
Wardle’s empathetic take on it all makes for very compelling viewing and ensures that like the brothers you too go through a whole gamut of emotions as this remarkable story completely unfolds.