Top 5: Films About Twins
List by Aaron Haughton
You probably didn't know it, but today marks the beginning of the Twins Day festival, which takes place yearly in Twinsburg, Ohio (how fitting, right?). The festival is the largest annual gathering of twins in the world and attracts over 2,000 pairs of twins per year. The spectacle was actually inspired by a pair of enterprising 19th-century twins, Moses and Aaron Wilcox, who owned about 4,000 acres of land in, what was then known, as Millsville, OH. The Wilcox twins offered to donate some acreage for a new town square and $20 (worth roughly 360 bucks in 1918) for a new school under the condition that the boring name of Millsville be updated to Twinsburg.
While it's difficult to determine if the town actually changed its name (there is still a Millsville, OH, and several sources don't indicate the actual outcome of the ultimatum), it's been reported that Moses and Aaron Wilcox were supposedly so identical that only their closest friends and relatives could tell them apart. The twins even married sisters, had the same number of children, and contracted the same fatal ailment, causing them to die within hours of each other. They're buried in the same grave in Twinsburg’s Locust Grove Cemetery.
The implementation of Twins Day occurred after the Wilcox twins' deaths in 1976 and has since taken on its own traditions, including "An unwritten festival rule that identical twins are identically dressed, too, which applies as much to 70-year-old men as it does to 17-year-old girls, and to tiny babies, wheeled around in fleets of twin buggies.”
To celebrate this bizarre happening, we're counting down our top 5 films about Twins. This is exclusive to films whose primary focus is twins, and doesn't include films with twins as side characters -- sorry ATL Twins from Spring Breakers, the Grady twins from The Shining and the Arizona twins from Raising Arizona, y'all just missed the cut. Without further adieu, here's our list:
- 5: Twins
What list about twins would be complete without Ivan Reitman's 1988 buddy film Twins? This film is full of wonderful 80s camp, silly one-liner, and warm goofy charm. Just seeing the image of the dwarf-esque DeVito next to the monstrously large Schwarzenegger cracks me up. Add a couple of matching suits, and you got yourself a discount bin gem. The pair share good chemistry and dynamic. There are plenty of good moments between the two, but I think Arnold takes the cake. Him flexing in front of the Rambo 3 poster and waving Stallone off like he's chicken shit, and of course the "Born To Be Bad" scene -- it uses Arnold's flexed muscle as a metaphor for his boner, hilarious:
- 4: Basket Case
This 1982 horror comedy is the first film from the deliciously delirious mind of Frank Henenlotter, and for a monster B-movie, it's an unlikely winner. It's not perfect, of course, but it does with a shoestring budget (which was only $35,000 -- the scene with the wad of money in the hotel room was literally the entire budget) what multi-million dollar horror films seldom do: kill you with charm. Basket Case embraces the schlock and makes it rain with hilarious camp. The gore it pretty top-notch for the time (and especially considering the budget), and it manages to blend practical effects with stop animation with relative ease. The film follows Duane (Kevin Van Hentenryck) and his extremely deformed Siamese-twin brother, Bilal, as they seek revenge on the doctors who separated them against their will.
- 3: Dead Ringers
From body horror master David Cronenberg, Dead Ringers follows identical twin gynecologists who take full advantage of the fact that no one can tell them apart, going so far as to even share the same women. Their scheme is pretty airtight, until emotions get in the way and their relationship crumbles over an actress. It's a Cronenberg film, so you can expect it to be bizarre, but the film trades in the practical effects and gore that were so prevalent in his earlier films for a oddly chilling, psychological narrative. Jeremy Irons delivers a fantastic performance as Beverly and Elliot Mantle, giving each twin their subtle nuances, but still allowing room for audience confusion. In some instances you really have to wonder which twin you're really seeing. More eerie than the film's final act, though, is that it's based on the mysterious true story of twin gynecologists, Stuart and Cyril Marcus, who were found dead together in July of 1975 at the age of 45.
- 2: The Prestige
While twins aren't a major focal point to most of the narrative, they do come into play in a very pivotal way. A tale of rivalry amongst two 19th-century magicians whose beef leads them into some pretty dark places. Nolan meshes the traditional notion of magic with an interesting sci-fi twang. It makes for one of the better Christopher Nolan films (next to The Dark Knight, I's say). It has a blindside twist that you'll kick yourself for not catching sooner (because on second viewing it's so very obvious), and David Bowie as Nikola Tesla.
- 1: Adaptation
Charlie Kaufman's insane adaption of Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief + Spike Jonze's fresh and inventive director's eye + Nicolas Cage in one of his best performances = a fucking instant winner. This film deserves to be the number one film about twins because each brother sees one another in the opposite light. Cage plays identical twin brother, Charlie and Donald Kaufman, two brothers who couldn't be any different; one is socially awkward and creative (Charlie), one is a charismatic fool (Donald). While Donald worships Charlie and believes he's a genius, Charlie views Donald like a simpleton who just kinda coasts through life with relative ease. As Charlie crumbles under the pressures of delivering a film adaptation for a New York Times bestseller about orchids, Donald's clichéd psychological thriller, called The 3, is selling for six or seven figures. In the end, it's Charlie who calls on Donald to help bring him out of his writing slump. The film presents a strange, yet honest and endearing brotherly dynamic. The film is a serious tour-de-force from all angles and slants that will have you laughing and wiping tears, filled with such darkness and humanity, and wonderful dialogue, moments that will downright touch your soul. Take Cage's conversation with himself in the swamp, as one shining example:
What do you think? Are there any films about twins that you'd add to the list? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and, as always, remember to viddy well!