Three Identical Strangers

three_identical_strangersYear: 2018

Synopsis: A documentary about identical triplets controversially separated at birth by an adoption agency for the purposes of a secret and unpublished study.

Pros:
• An engaging discussion about real-life and at times ironic events. The irony of a Jewish doctor conducting a study reminiscent of the eugenics studies popular into WWII, especially amongst the Nazis, was well highlighted.
• Went into the controversial and ethically dubious nature of the psychological study that involved a still unclear number of orphan twins.
• Avoided the easy documentary pitfalls of heavy reenactments in favor of the real people through interviews, pictures, and actual past interviews.
• Highlighted how the artificial nature of the study might have made the results untenable, not even counting the ethical problems.
• Directly addressed the question of nature vs nurture that was the impetus for the controversial study of twins and triplets. The apparently easy urge to only see the astounding similarities, when there were increasing differences over the succeeding decades, was a fascinating element.

Cons:
• The couple left alive that were involved with the study might come off as a bit uncaring, when it was unclear if that was the case.
• The dark drama of the story might have been too hard for some to watch.

Discussion:
Can a study of nature versus nurture amongst separated twins and triplets be done in an ethical and tenable manner? Probably not via the methods shown here. By separating the children not long after birth into prearranged environments — and conducting tests at various points in their youth, an artificial reality not unlike that of reality TV was created. Key moments were instilled in all of them at virtually the same time, ensuring the same key psychological moments. Thus, many of the numerous similarities perceived, in spite of different upbringing, might very well stem from those artificial moments. There were even psychological issues the study likely triggered that might not have manifested otherwise. From the start, there were certainly differences perceivable amongst the triplets, while they and the world were only really looking for similarities. It was objectively remarkable how similar they are, but the two surviving triplets made it quite clear now that they are far from proverbial clones. Nature and nurture are indeed close competitors in life. We just need to ensure we are looking at that ethically and objectively.


Official Website

Rotten Tomatoes — 96%

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