Brother's Keeper

Released 2002


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Movie Summary

Joe Berlinger , Bruce Sinofsky

Brother's Keeper is a 1992 documentary directed by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. The film tells the story of the 1990 death of William Ward and the media frenzy that occurred in the days that followed. William Ward lived in Munnsville, New York, a small town near Syracuse. He lived there with his three brothers, Adelbert "Delbert," Lyman and Roscoe, in the same shack for over 60 years. The brothers lived in a small two room run-down home with no running water or heat and farmed the land their family had owned for generations. They kept to themselves and never bothered anybody, but their lives were thrown into the national spotlight when William ended up dead in the bed he shared with his brother, Delbert. The media portrayed the brothers as uneducated hicks and claimed Delbert snapped and murdered his brother. Delbert has a very low IQ and the people who knew him believed he had been coerced to confess and that the killing was actually a mercy killing. Was the murder of William Ward a mercy killing or did his brother snap and murder him in cold blood?


Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Rolling Stone Peter Travers

    Brother's Keeper has the texture, emotion and raw urgency of a Woody Guthrie anthem -- it keeps coming back to haunt you.

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Brother's Keeper, the year's best documentary, has an impact and immediacy that most fiction films can only envy. It tells a strong story, and some passages are truly inspirational...

  • 78

    Austin Chronicle Marjorie Baumgarten

    So fascinating is Brother's Keeper that you almost don't quarrel with things like the biased portraits of the prosecuting team and the Deliverance-like banjo-shuffling soundtrack. ...

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Thrillers, Crime