Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Brother's Keeper" (1992) (Documentary) - Movie Review

“Brother’s Keeper” is an honest documentary. It has a fair eye on its primary people and shows a real life court case without drama, because the reality of that is confusing. Watching this film exposing to a society and people rarely seen in the US. It follows the Ward boys as the people of Munnsville, New York call these old man in their sixties. Delbert Ward, Lyman Ward, Roscoe Ward and Bill Ward were brother living together in a torn down two room shack for all their years. The documentary is the trial of Bill Ward’s death and his brother Delbert Ward being charged with murder in the second degree.

This is not a drama, well it is but not the kind we are used to. These are people oblivious to the world outside of them, rather do not care about it or think about it. All of them can sparsely read and they cover themselves with beards and wrinkled skin. These are not the ordinary men we would like to converse on our way through a lonely road with nothing but their shackled house. But these are the ones we will be seeing and may be get a taste of their living existence.

Directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky are interested in the Wards and more interested in this battle of supposedly hick people and the city slicks. Before this murder trial, even the townspeople of Munnsville did not care much about the brothers. Yet they do not care because that was not their business. The time though has come to stand for them and they stand well for them.

Bill Ward was said to be suffering from excruciating pain. One of the brothers say that he cut himself with a chainsaw. Delbert Ward says he found his brother dead and they called up the neighbours and few friends for help. They go through procedure and for odd reasons, they suspect it to be a murder. A mercy kill by Delbert by suffocating his brother to relieve of his pain. Took into custody, he was questioned with the people he can barely able to understand and vice versa. They needed a confession and they get it without him having no clue of what he was signing.

“Brother’s Keeper” will not affect you in emotional level. It does not portray the love these brothers have for each other. In fact I am not even sure how they relate to that fact. They have lived together all their life and prison might provide them with clean health and surroundings than their house. It is shabby, unclean and gets a super definition for the term mess. They are farmers and that appears to be their passion, though not much is said.

The reason we do not get an in depth exploration of the Wards is that they have grown with the disability of expressing or exploring themselves and the surroundings. They are of course happy in their land and they mind their business as other farmers do. The film documents the sudden burst of the media interest into their story and this changes the Wards too. Not again in the significant fashion we would expect it to be. The change though is significant to the townspeople. Delbert has never came out to a party and danced.

“Brother’s Keeper” is a film which merely tells that there are wide varied people in this far and wide land. They have their life designed and their lifestyle how much ever different from the modern world has, had defined them in certain way. The prejudice we have over these farmers have made the system to come for a strange conclusion than an investigation.

The film did not affect me. Neither did it attempt to. It simply puts forth these happenings in this town and this shift in the attitude of the people around these loners. Suddenly the community unites and stands by Delbert. More than the Wards, this is a story about how sociologically different and similar we humans are. “Brother’s Keeper” is a bland documentary and it is designed to be so because the life of the Wards has the colour we modern freak are far away from.

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