Arts

my borther jordan promotional poster
my brother jordan is a sad, beautiful look at the strength of a family bond. Image: my brother jordan official poster/courtesy

Grab tissues: this documentary is an honest look at what it means to be a real brother

There are very few movies that have made me cry, and none that have made me cry within the first five minutes of the opening scene. None, that is, until YouTube documentary my brother jordan.

The film begins with a montage of interviewees all discussing a person named Jordan Robinson and how amazing he was. The past tense is a worrying start; we know right away that something is coming.

The interviewees make it clear; Jordan was the type of amazing person his entire life that when he subsequently passed away, no one had to exaggerate or hype him up. His memory demanded no exaggeration. The introductory interviews mixed with old home videos until the scene abruptly cuts to a wide shot of Justin, Jordan’s brother, and the filmmaker, sitting across from his brother’s grave. 

Justin is an aspiring filmmaker who comes from a large conservative family. His father is a preacher who moved congregations a lot, and his mother is the type of lady to ban public school and PG-rated movies. As a result of this isolation, the Robinson brothers became incredibly close – especially Jordan and Justin. 

The film begins by telling the story of the Robinson family and Jordan’s childhood interest in skateboarding (which eventually turned into basketball in high school).

Jordan went on to play college basketball at a small Christian college in North Carolina. For a while, Jordan had a small inflamed bump on his ankle that most doctors assumed was a fluid buildup or pulled muscle. Eventually, he went to get the fluid removed, only to be rapidly diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. 

Jordan went through 36 rounds of radiation, five surgeries and seven chemo treatments. Despite this, he remained positive throughout his illness; one friend fittingly says “how can someone be in so much pain and still have so much fun?” The cancer eventually spread to Jordan’s entire body, and he passed away on Aug. 19, 2008 at the age of 20 surrounded by his family in a hospital in South Carolina. 

The film interviews 102 people who knew Jordan, and uses over 300 home videos to help bring Jordan’s story to life. Justin makes it clear: following Jordan’s death, he felt the need to make a video documenting the life of his brother through his own eyes before making any other film. 

my brother jordan, the final product of an eight-year filming process, was released on YouTube on Aug. 19, 2020. It already has over 5 million views and over 24,000 comments, many of which show an overwhelming amount of support for both Justin and his brother. 

However, the film is more than just about Jordan’s illness and eventual death. It tells the story of how deep the love between siblings runs and how we never forget about the people we love and the impact they have on our lives. It reminds us you do not have to be famous to be impactful. Every single person leads an extraordinary life and has a profound impact on those that they love and those who love them.