Kevin Fallon writes that a new documentary Three Identical Strangers that just debuted at the Sundance film festival tells the story of three identical triplets Bobby, Eddy, and David who were separated at birth who, in 1980, joyfully discovered each other 19 years later.
Their upbringings, though all three raised in Jewish families in the suburbs of New York City, were completely different, with different economic comforts. Yet they grew up to be so similar, a nature vs. nurture marvel if there was ever was one.
But bubbling beneath this bliss were angering questions. Why were these triplets separated by the adoption agency? Why weren’t their adoptive parents told about their child’s siblings?
This is a Sundance documentary produced by CNN Films, not a Parade magazine article, after all. Darkness was bound to shroud this love affair.
Soon it is uncovered that the triplets were part of a secret study in which newborn identical siblings put up for adoption were separated for the purpose of psychological and behavioral experimentation. The babies all came from the Louise Wise agency, and were monitored for years. The adoptive parents were simply told their children were being followed for a study about the development of adopted children. In reality, it was to determine how much of a person’s behavior is hereditary and how much is shaped by their environment (nature vs. nurture), using identical siblings raised in different households as the control group.
As Bobby says, “This is, like, Nazi shit.”
How many children were treated in this way, as little more than laboratory specimens?
The reviews of the film say that the story takes many surprising twists and turns. This is definitely on my must-see list when it is generally released. Here’s a clip of the director talking about the film.
Here is a clip from the film.