THE LOOK OF SILENCE
(director: Joshua Oppenheimer; cinematographer: Lars Skree; editor: Niels Pagh Andersen; Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Signe Byrge Sorensen; Drafthouse Films & and Participant Media.; 2014-Denmark-Indonesia-Norway-Finland-U.K–in Indonesian and Javanese, with English subtitles)
“Focuses on the victims instead of the criminals.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
American filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer(“The Act of Killing”/”The Entire History of The Louisiana Purchase”) films a companion piece documentary to his hard-hitting The Act of Killing (2012). This time he focuses on the victims instead of the criminals. The film revolves around Adi, a mild-mannered 44-year-old Indonesian optician, who needs to learn who killed his older brother Ramil and why during a purge of some one-million Communists in the country back in 1966. He hopes the family can have closure when the whole truth is revealed. Adi was born a few years after the massacre took place, as we learn that there was a military coup in 1965 and a military dictatorship took control.
Oppenheimer discloses the country’s misdeeds, its cover-up, its continual misleading propaganda and the country’s failure to still come to grips with its shadowy past.
The interviews by Adi and the filmmaker with those who acted as torturers and were responsible for the older brother’s death are hard to watch without feeling the pain of all the innocent victims. How a government can act in so dehumanizing a manner is one of the still unanswered modern-day questions. The hope here is by revealing the truth such tragedies will not happen again.
The sobering, straight-forward and well-investigated film serves well as a history document on the face of evil. How influential it will be is iffy, since it is preaching to the choir and unlikely to reach a wide audience despite being such a praise-worthy effort.
REVIEWED ON 10/29/2015 GRADE: B+