They were identical twins, two black girls in a white world with an extremely strong bond, and no one else could enter it. Now, their remarkable – and disturbing – story is about to hit the big screen.
“It definitely messed with my head,” Letitia Wright told The Post about filming her new movie The Silent Twins, which opened Friday.
When John and Jennifer Gibbons were born, it was clear to their parents early on that something was unique about them. Or, more accurately, between them.
They started talking late and when they finally spoke, their words came out distorted. Marjorie Wallace, author of the 1986 book The Silent Twins, told NPR in 2015: “They chirped and squeaked, and uttered the wrong syllables. It was like they were speaking a foreign language. They both moved with some kind of synchronicity.”
Wright (“Black Panther”) and Tamara Lawrence (“Kindred”) star in “The Silent Twins,” the stranger-than-fiction story of the Gibbons twins; They play June and Jennifer in director Agnieszka Smoczynska’s novel of their baffling life story, adapted from Wallace’s book.
Jennifer and June’s parents were from Barbados, and the twins were born in 1963 at a British military base in Yemen, where their father was stationed. In the early 1970s, the family settled in Wales, where girls were the only black children in their primary school.
It seems that the bullying they were subjected to increased their attachment and unwillingness to communicate with others, which earned the girls the nickname “The Silent Twin”.
All That Interesting reports: “Although the family was speaking English at home, Young John and Jennifer Gibbons began speaking another language, believed to be a quick version of Pagan Creole.”
As the movie shows, John and Jennifer would animatedly talk to each other until someone else came into the room, then fell passive and calm with their heads low.
“Their silence was in protest of racism – the systemic racism that they experienced as children they couldn’t fully understand,” Wright told the newspaper.
The twin bond, while inseparable, was not always a loving bond.
According to Wallace’s book, Jennifer once tried to strangle June with a radio wire, while June once tried to drown Jennifer after they competed for the attention of some boys.
Girls isolate themselves more and more as they get older, recede into their own world, and eventually turn to criminal behavior. In 1981, they burned down a tractor dealer, later injuring a firefighter; Shortly thereafter, they were caught vandalizing and trying to set a technical college on fire.
In 1982, teenage twins were arrested and sentenced to Broadmoor Prison, a British maximum security facility for those deemed “criminally insane”. In the years before the arrest, they had dropped out of school, barricaded themselves in their room to speak and write their common language. They filled countless notebooks with their stories and bought a typewriter so they could submit their work to magazines.
“If they had been born at this time, they would be a New York Times bestselling author and prodigy,” Wright said.
The film brings their sad fantasy writing to life in its discontinued animated sequences.
Wallace heard about the twins from a fellow journalist and began visiting them in Broadmoor.
To her surprise, she befriended them by telling them that their parents had allowed her to read their notebooks. They broke their silence and asked her if she liked their writing and told her that they dreamed of becoming women writers. I found that the things they wrote included angry pleas about their relationship. Wallace shared one excerpt from Jennifer with NPR:
The twins wrote: “We have become mortal enemies in each other’s eyes.” “We feel the annoying killer rays coming out of our bodies, hurting each other’s skin. I say to myself, Can I get rid of my shadow – impossible or not possible? Without my shadow, would I die? Without my shadow, would I gain life, would I be free or be left to die?”
Wallace, one of the only people John and Jennifer spoke to, ended up reporting extensively on behavior that allegedly frightened Broadmoor’s staff. The twins took turns as either one ate the food while the other went hungry. They were separated for some time, and the staff discovered that the two girls, although kept in cells far apart, were motionless, frozen in the exact same position.
Wright said that re-enacting the time of young women in Broadmoor was the most challenging part of filming.
“It was hard for us to do these things every day,” she said, “but I devoted myself to them along with Tamara, because that was the reality of the experience, and I wanted people to see it.” “So, yeah, you screwed it up with me, but I gave myself to be a ship. When you watch this movie, you’ll see what they went through.”
Finally, the twins were eligible for transfer to a different hospital, one that would allow them to qualify for parole. Before leaving, they met Wallace. Jennifer said to her, “Marjorie, I’m going to die.” The journalist laughed at this nervously, but the twins insisted, telling her that the two made the decision together.
When she left Broadmoor’s bus with the twins inside, Jennifer reportedly fell on June’s shoulder, slipping into a coma. The 29-year-old was announced dead later that day, as swelling was found around her heart.
“Doctors at the Caswell Clinic concluded that the drugs given to the girls in Broadmoor must have raised Jennifer’s immune system – although they also noted that June was given the same drugs and was healthy when he arrived,” according to the “All That’s Interesting” report. “.
After her initial shock at Jennifer’s death, June is reported to have blossomed and emerged from her shell. She is alive today, lives in West Wales and is a writer. “Pepsi-Cola Addict” – a novel she and Jennifer wrote when she and Jennifer were 16 and initially printed by Vanity Press – is due to be published next year.
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