Last year I urged those of you with strong stomachs to see Joshua Oppenheimer’s superb but harrowing documentary, The Act Of Killing. I must now repeat that plea in respect of his companion-piece, The Look of Silence.
Whereas The Act Of Killing focused directly on the government-sponsored killers and the wider picture of what happened in the Indonesian military dictatorship from 1965, The Look of Silence follows the brother of one butchered person as he meets those involved in his death. It is a calmer look at both what happened and the current situation, in which killers and victims’ families live side-by-side and school teaches the murdered man’s nephew and his classmates that those killed were the bad guys, being ‘communist’ and ‘not religious’.
It’s worth noting that in 1967 – the same year that all that wonderful music was made in the freedom-loving USA – NBC was reporting how successful the Indonesian government was being in its eradication of communists, calmly noting how some were deliberately starved to death, whilst others were executed, etc. The mundanity of evil covers the planet.