Indonesia

NYFF 2014: Joshua Oppenheimer’s ‘The Look of Silence’ is a quietly devastating achievement

For those who already have a low opinion of humanity, The Look of Silence will do little to alleviate your misanthropy. It’s a gorgeously-crafted documentary, and it will likely resonate with people of at least decent moral standing, but it depicts humanity at its worst and offers no hope at the end. A unnervingly tranquil depiction of men as monsters, Joshua Oppenheimer’s film attempts to confront the leaders of the 1960s Indonesian Genocide, a one-sided civil war that resulted in the deaths of over one million people. The killers admit to nothing, of course, and the elected officials (“elected”)write off the genocide as “politics.” Children are programmed to think that those who were murdered deserved it: they were communists, Godless heathens, sinners. Victims’ families don’t dare address the decades-long suppression of truth because subversives are still killed in Indonesia today. It’s 2014, and the populace has been lulled into a startling state of delusion. The film, beauteous and depressing in equal measure, feels like a slowly swelling minor chord sustained for 99 minutes, with no crescendo needed.

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