The Look of Silence
Length: 103 minutes / 1.72 hours
It’s weird how a documentary can make something as deplorable as killing another human being a chilling experience. If the killings that happened in Indonesia were shown on the screen in all their gory detail, there’s a certain point where a viewer’s mind just shuts off from all the violence. It’s almost too much to watch, which is why interviews with those who did the killings is a different and almost more horrifying way to go about exposing this barbaric event. The Look of Silence (2014) is a tough movie to watch, but it is crucial for understanding how anyone could do something so vile.
Put in the framing of an optometrist trying to confront his brother’s killers, The Look of Silence has this quiet, stoic energy about the horrific killings in Indonesia. I was in shock when these men talked so candidly, openly, and unabashedly about the atrocities they did to other people. There was no shame in what they did. They were either following orders or felt that it was their divine right to rid the world of these people in the most violent ways imaginable. The things they did to “remain sane” were just as gruesome.
The cinematography of these series of interviews was quite stunning, even if some shots hold on for too long. I was also in awe of the calm and collected nature of the interviewer, as he was talking with the very people who had brutally killed his brother. He didn’t want retribution or revenge. I think he just wanted closure, or at least for these men to start to realize what they had done. Perhaps these men were only part of an older generation who thought that the killings they did were acceptable acts. By modern sensibilities, I hope people like this never come to power anywhere ever again.
A horrifying examination of killers who didn’t know they were wrong, I give Look of Silence 4.5 stars out of 5.