Thursday, 7 July 2016

If your heart needs warming, watch the documentary, “Twin Sisters: A World Apart”, available on BBC iPlayer or Vimeo

Here’s the official trailer for a film that seems to feature nothing but good people:
We missed this award-winning Norwegian-made film when it was shown on BBC 4 last year, and we’d have missed the repeat as well…

…if my wife hadn’t read about it. She downloaded it last week, and made me watch it last night, mainly because she thought I would enjoy the sections filmed in the remote Norwegian village of Fresvik, on the shore of the stunningly beautiful Sognefjord, which is the most utterly Nordic place one could possibly imagine (we took a long ferry trip along it around the turn of the century).

The bit my wife wanted me to see featured a charming little Chinese girl who’d been adopted by a Norwegian couple. The sound of Norwegian issuing from an entirely oriental face tickled me pink: it’s just so… unexpected! A Chinese-origin child (or whatever the PC term is) speaking standard English, or English with an American accent - or French or German, come to that - is so unremarkable, one doesn’t even notice it. But Norwegian? (I’ll admit to experiencing similar delight when hearing a person of Chinese origin - POCO? - speaking in a heavy regional British accent - Glaswegian, in particular,  simply doesn’t compute, even though there seem to be quite a lot of Chinese Glaswegians.) After watching for a few minutes, and having had to surreptitiously wipe away tears, I asked if we could go back to the beginning and see the whole thing.

Here’s the synopsis, taken from the PBS website:
Twin Sisters tells the moving true story of Mia and Alexandra, twin Chinese infants found in a cardboard box and taken to an orphanage in 2003. Two sets of hopeful parents — from Norway, and Sacramento, California — arrived in China to claim the babies but by a twist of fate, the adopting parents also met each other. Noticing how much the girls looked alike, they wondered if their new daughters might be connected.
The new mothers exchanged contact information and a year later did a DNA test confirming the girls were indeed twins, but by then they'd already become truly a part of their new families. In the U.S., Mia is raised a typical, all-American girl, with a bustling life filled with violin lessons, Girl Scouts, and soccer, while Alexandra grows up in the quietude of the breathtakingly beautiful but isolated village of Fresvik, Norway.
(Fresvik is splendidly isolated and unsullied - a sort of Scandinavian version of Brigadoon.) Both sets of adoptive parents come across as truly lovely people, as do the sisters themselves (pleasingly, the Americans wear their hearts on their sleeve, while the Norwegians are distinctly reserved and don't say much - which is exactly as it should be). There’s some rather poignant contrasting of lifestyles (the American girl has to be taken everywhere by car, whereas her Norwegian twin happily slogs unaccompanied up and down mountain roads through the early-morning darkness to get to school), but there’s none of the standard Euro-sniffiness about the American penchant for Barbie parties and dolling little girls up as Disney princesses: each to his own.

On the whole, the film is remarkably unpreachy: there's almost no political axe-grinding. The viewer just feels delighted that two children abandoned at birth (in a cardboard box, for God's sake) should end up thousands of miles away, being brought up by loving parents in two very different but, in their distinct ways, idyllic settings.

If you’re in the UK, you can see Twin Sisters on the iPlayer here. Otherwise, you can pay a modest fee to watch it on Vimeo, here.

1 comment:

  1. Just watched this film. Outstanding production. Thank you for the recommendation and link.