June and Jennifer Gibbons

I first read about the Silent Twins late last year and immediately thought that their story could make for an incredible, fascinating film, especially truly unique among black films – with the right script and director of course. A story like theirs needs a filmmaker with a nuanced vision, who can also simultaneously tackle the strange and disturbing psychological terror underneath.

The twins, June and Jennifer Gibbons, were born to Barbadian parents in the UK in 1963, and grew up in Wales in a predominantly white community, standing out because they exclusively communicated with each other in their own unique language, and constantly bullied. It was eventually discovered that they were actually speaking English, but in a very rapid, sped up way that no one could understand.

The black horror blog Graveyard Shift Sisters has the details on a film project that’s currently in development based on the twins’ story.

“Audre’s Revenge, the horror/sci-fi film production collective focused on stories about queer and people of color will be following the completion of ‘Flesh’ on the largely unknown, eerie, true tale of The Silent Twins. From a statement on Facebook, founder Monika Estrella Bella explains, ‘Ultimately, their story is one that is not talked about too often, as it contains the taboos of Black mental health, racism, and the results of white supremacy against Black bodies. Our horrors, our darkest areas. It’s a story to be explored, and told…and I intend to do it.’ 

Identical and inseparable, June and Jennifer’s seemingly bizarre behavior and aggression only intensified when attempts were made at socializing them in their environments. To no avail, during their teen years, they continued to communicate only with one another, getting lost in literature and sharing their creative talents amongst each other. But their strange bond with each began to disintegrate into insecurity, and jealousy that lead to dark, poetic musings in journal entries and at worst, physical attacks against one another. Other violent behavior followed like theft and arson which ultimately landed them in Broadmoor psychiatric hospital in Berkshire England.”

Much more can be found here.

But to summarize, while they were hospitalized, the twins were forced to separate for what doctors thought were for their own good and eventually they made a macabre pact that one had to die in order for the other to live a normal life.

Eventually, it was Jennifer who died in March 1993 due to an inflammation of the heart, though no foul play was found. June was released a year later and visited her sister’s grave on a weekly basis.

I told you it’s a fascinating story, and now the Philly-based production company, Audre’s Revenge, which specializes in horror and sci-fi films has announced they are currently developing a film project about the twins. I hope the company succeeds. It’s too compelling a story to be ignored. Though one has to ask, if you were putting this project together, who would hire to direct and/or star in it?

A Facebook page for the project has been set up; so you can follow its progress there.