This film is part of Free

One of Them Is Brett

Unforgettable documentary about a boy, born without arms due to thalidomide, and his family

1965 30 mins



This documentary, exploring the thalidomide crisis' effects on one family, is as unforgettable as it is historically significant. Brett, born without arms, is shown in many settings: among family, at school, in everyday activity and in prosthetic treatment, his personality and dexterous determination always evident. Stanley Baker voices a poised, piercing commentary; Brett's mother perceptively comments on Brett, family life and the attitudes of others.

This hopeful, honest and humane film is also an important hybrid of forms, bridging the traditional charity sponsored film (it was commissioned by the UK's thalidomide campaign) and TV documentary (it was televised by the BBC and in many other countries). The production company Derrick Knight and Partners played a unique, neglected role in 1960s documentary filmmaking by applying a modern observational style to sponsored films. For director Roger Graef, this production was a career stepping stone: he became a leading talent in documentary television (50 years on, incidentally, Graef made a follow-up BBC film, Brett: A Life With No Arms). Above all, though, this is a well-judged statement: never losing sight of the bigger topic but always respecting the individual.