Actors: Lea Thompson, Nancy Allen
Director: Leslie Zemeckis
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: October 28, 2014
Run Time: 90 minutes
Bound by Flesh is strongest when delving into the historical context of the freak show rather than the personal lives of conjoined twins, Daisy and Violet Hilton. It isn’t that their lives aren’t interesting, but we are given very little content to help us understand or relate to them as people, beginning with the essential choice to remain conjoined despite having no medical reason to stay that way. These sisters chose to remain attached to each other, even long after their fame and careers in the entertainment industry had passed.
Directed by wife and producer of filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, Leslie Zemeckis compiles source material to tell the story of Daisy and Violet Hilton, though it always feels like a narrative being told from the outside. We are given little insight into the actual thoughts and feelings of the conjoined sisters, not to mention anyone else in the industry of being exploited. For all of the historical information that there is about this shift in American interest, Bound by Flesh is disappointingly void of perspectives from anyone on the inside. There are plenty of talking heads describing the historical significance of these times, and more than a few who had personally known the sisters, but none are able to speak for the thoughts and feelings of people making a living off of their own physical deformities.
Rather than understanding these women better through the stories about them, they seem more enigmatic with each revelation about their lives. Most of the stories are simply an extension of their public personalities, which were primarily created to increase their popularity and ticket sales. Though they had actual relationships, there is more interest in exposing the fake ones that were fabricated as promotional stunts. The overall feel of the film is not much different than I imagine was provided for those who initially visited the sisters in their sideshow attractions; these two girls might as well be behind glass, the audience detached from ever really knowing them beyond the surface.
The DVD release includes additional interviews of “normal” people talking about the “abnormal.” There is also a making-of featurette, vintage audio interviews and a photo gallery.
Entertainment Value: 5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 5.5/10
Historical Significance: 4/10
Special Features: 6/10