• James Rutherford

'The Look of Silence': A Deeply Profound Documentation of Reflections on the Indonesian Genocide


Movie poster for the documentary The Look of Silence from filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer

“The Look of Silence” (2014) is a deeply profound documentary that examines the long-term consequences of the Indonesian Genocide, the state-sponsored mass murder of millions of Communist party members and sympathizers between 1965 and 1966. The focus of the film’s narrative is middle-aged ophthalmologist Adi Rukun, whose brother Ramli died in 1965 at the hands of President Sukarno’s death squads. Eager to confront the men who implemented the government’s campaign of extermination, Rukun partners with American filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer to meet with surviving assassins under the guise of providing free eye examinations. Given the opportunity to sit with these men and casually inquiry about about their heinous acts, Rukun provides a gravely alarming glimpse into the psyche of the utterly remorseless and deranged. Serving as a companion piece to Oppenheimer’s previous effort “The Act of Killing” (2012) which also features a series of confrontations with Indonesian death squad members, “The Look of Silence” is a stunning and entirely unforgettable viewing experience. Certainly not family fare considering the true-life horrors spelled out in such grim detail, it remains an astonishing and utterly monumental achievement in non-fiction filmmaking.

 

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