Friday, March 19, 2010

Brother's Keeper (1992) NR - 4 Stars

OMG I loved this documentary about the Ward brothers of Munnsville, N.Y.. I have to put this in my bizarre category as it's one of the most bizarre murder trials in U.S. history. The conditions these 4 dairy farmers have been living in for almost 60 years, are pretty much unbearable for most people to imagine. But after viewing the movie, I have mixed feelings about whether he did or did not kill his brother. The way younger brother Lyman freaked out while saying "I won't be here very long if I don't," when the prosecutor asked he he wanted to change his testimony from pointing the finger at Delbert. It appeared that Lyman was too scared of his older brother to stick to what he told the cops that morning of June 6th, that Delbert had smothered Will in his sleep. Then again, Delbert looks like he couldn't harm an ant if he had to and you want to feel he was incapable of such an act. Either way, I'd say there's a lot more to the story that these three surviving brothers will take to their graves. A REALLY entertaining watch.

In the small town of Munnsville with a population of 499 people, an aging dairy farmer will be accused of murdering his older brother. It's the morning of June 6, 1990, when Delbert awakes, he finds his brother Will, not breathing. As the EMC's arrive on scene, prepare and take the body away, it appears Will has died of natural causes. But by the morning of June 7th (coincidentally my birthday), Delbert will be accused of murder in the 2nd degree.

Living on a 99 acre dairy farm, in isolation, without heat or running water, these elderly brothers with limited IQ's, had virtually no contact with anyone outside their farm unless going to town. Most of the other farmers in the village of Munnsville, New York looked down on these brothers mainly because of the odor that hung over the brothers due to their living conditions, usually not changing their clothes or bathing for up to 6 weeks at a time.

At the police station, Delbert Ward would confess to smothering his brother in an act of mercy, just so he could leave and go back home to the security of his brothers. Instead, he was put in jail with bail set at $10,000. When the other farmers of Munnsville found out that Delbert had been arrested, the entire village rallied together to raise money for his bail as they were convinced that Delbert had been framed by the big city lawyers looking down on their type of folk.

Awards include:
1992 - National Board of Review - Best Documentary
1992 - New York Film Critics Circle - Best Documentary
1991 - Sundance Film Festival - Audience Award

American Playhouse, IFC Films
Directors: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Writers: Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky
Producers: Bruce Sinofsky, Joe Berlinger
I viewed 3/10

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