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The Look of Silence

Where to Watch The Look of Silence


The Look of Silence is a profound, stirring, and emotionally complex documentary that was released in 2014. Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and co-directed by Anonymous and Christine Cynn, this film stars Adi Rukun, M.Y. Basrun, and Volker Hanisch. It is a follow-up to the critically acclaimed 2012 documentary, The Act of Killing. While both documentaries stand separate and deliver a powerful punch in their own ways, together, they provide an in-depth exploration of the events that occurred during the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66.

Adi Rukun is the primary protagonist of The Look of Silence. He is an optometrist who has lived his whole life carrying the burden of his brother's gruesome murder that took place during the anti-Communist purge. What's unique about Adi's story is that he was born after the terrible era, which entangled his family and tore his brother's life to shreds before he could know him. However, the ghost of this past has been a part of his existence since his birth, shaping his life in unimaginable ways.

As an optometrist, Adi has the skills of looking deep into the eyes and diagnosing problems that lie beneath the apparent surface. He takes on a similar role in the cinematic narrative, delving into the unhealed wounds of the past, in a quest for answers, closure, and possible redemption.

The Look of Silence is a powerful human story, as Adi courageously confronts the men who ended his brother's life in the genocide. He does not approach them from a place of gratuitous revenge. Instead, his inquiry has a subtle suggestion of finding understanding and forging a possibility for empathy and forgiveness. He seeks the tales of the butchers who saw his brother as 'a communist' and not a human, hoping that they might see his brother, and consequently, all their victims, in a more humane light.

Oppenheimer's film remarkably captures the entanglement of personal narratives with broader societal events. There is no political discourse or complex historical examination. Yet, the film highlights how such traumatic events breed a mindless cycle of violence and rationalized killing, leaving behind generations dealing with the impacts of such horror.

The movie also presents a poignant examination of a society's collective denial, selective amnesia, and its silence on matters that are too inconvenient to ponder upon. The assassin squad members preen and boast about their 'heroics,' believing their actions justified and necessary. This portrayal is a biting commentary on their apathy and individual as well as collective lack of remorse, and evokes a sense of chilling horror.

One of the most striking aspects of The Look of Silence is the intimate portrayal of Adi's family, particularly his aging parents. Their grief, anger, and apprehensiveness about their son’s mission offer a deeply human dimension to the story.

On the formal front, The Look of Silence is superbly crafted. Its visual appeal lies in its simplicity and the hypnotic quality it creates through its delicate capture of the Indonesian locales. It is marked by a slow rhythm and long silences, symbolic of the unresolved and unvoiced darkness of the past that hangs heavily in the atmosphere. The juxtaposition of Adi's undertaking with his professional life as an optometrist notwithstanding the unsettling echoes of past is brilliantly executed.

Oppenheimer showcases an impeccably non-judgemental stance in his handling of the subject. He provides the space for the characters, both the affected and the perpetrators, to reveal their deepest corners. His approach is patient and meditative rather than inflammatory and sensational. This contributes significantly to the resonating power of the film.

In conclusion, The Look of Silence is a staggering and deeply moving documentary that delves into the realm of memory, denial, reconciliation, and the human capacity for empathy amidst unimaginable cruelty. The film is a testament to Adi Rukun's heroic journey towards understanding and forgiving the past while living a life surrounded by unpunished murderers of his brother. And through it, it indirectly forces us, the viewers, to confront our own capacity for violence, denial, and forgiveness, inducing a silence that resonates long after the film is over.

The Look of Silence is a History, Documentary movie released in 2015. It has a runtime of 103 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it mostly positive reviews, with an IMDb score of 8.3. It also holds a MetaScore of 92.

How to Watch The Look of Silence

Where can I stream The Look of Silence movie online? The Look of Silence is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Amazon Prime, Netflix, The Roku Channel, Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play. Some platforms allow you to rent The Look of Silence for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

Joshua Oppenheimer
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