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The Look of Silence (2014)

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A family that survived the genocide in Indonesia confronts the men who killed one of their brothers.


Joshua Oppenheimer
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 48 wins & 42 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Adi Rukun ... Himself, brother of murdered Ramli Rukun
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
M.Y. Basrun M.Y. Basrun ... Himself, former commander of a civilian militia
Amir Hasan Amir Hasan ... Himself, former leader of death squad (archive footage)
Inong ... Himself, former leader the village death squad
Kemat Kemat ... Himself, survivor from Snake River massacre
Joshua Oppenheimer ... Himself (voice) (as Josh)
Amir Siahaan Amir Siahaan ... Himself, former commander of Snake River death squads
Ted Yates Ted Yates ... Himself, reporter, NBC News (archive footage)


An Indonesian man with a communist background named Ramli was brutally murdered when the "Communist" purge occurred in 1965. His remaining family members lived in fear and silence until the making of this documentary. Adi, a brother of his, decided to revisit the horrific incident and visited the men who were responsible for the killings and one survivor of the purge. These meetings uncovered sadistic details of the murders and exposed raw emotions and reactions of the killers' family members about what happened in the past - much to Adi's disappointment.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Masterpiece. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG - 13 for thematic material involving disturbing graphic descriptions of atrocities and inhumanity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »



Release Date:

17 July 2015 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A csend képe See more »

Filming Locations:



Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$6,616, 19 July 2015, Limited Release

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



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Did You Know?


According to Joshua Oppenheimer, The Look of Silence has been screened over 3,500 times to more than 300,000 people in Indonesia. See more »


Himself, brother of murdered Ramli Rukun: Tell me about that madness.
Himself, former leader the village death squad: Some killed so many people who have gone mad. A man climbed a palm tree, every morning, to call for prayer. Killed too many people. There is only one way to avoid it. Drink the blood or go crazy. But if you drink blood, you can do anything.
Himself, brother of murdered Ramli Rukun: [Testing the eyeglasses] What do you think...
Himself, former leader the village death squad: Salty and sweet. The human blood.
Himself, brother of murdered Ramli Rukun: Pardon?
Himself, former leader the village death squad: Human blood is salty and sweet. I know from experience.
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Edited into P.O.V.: The Look of Silence (2016) See more »


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User Reviews

Silence speaks volumes
4 July 2015 | by MortalKombatFan1See all my reviews

"The Look of Silence" is a companion piece to Joshua Oppenheimer's previous film "The Act of Killing". Both films deal with the mass murder of communists in Indonesia between 1965 and 1966 - a serious crime resulting in the deaths of over a million innocent people by the hands of hired militia sanctioned by the government, but has gone unnoticed in the public eye for so long because the perpetrators are still at large, hailed as national heroes for stopping a revolution and in positions of power in government for over fifty years, living peacefully among the families of those they murdered.

"Act of Killing" is more audacious in style, following three killers as they recreate their murders for film in any genre they want (gangster flick, musical, etc.) - all the while they're boastful of their accomplishments, without any remorse or regret for their actions.'

This film follows Adi Rukun, an optometrist who's brother was murdered in the genocide. We see him confronting death squad leaders and those who knew his brother, looking for some sort of understanding and possibly reconciliation for his murder. There are also domestic scenes with his mother and father, as well as with his wife and family. Life plays out happily before our eyes, but beneath it there are still painful reminders of the past when Adi talks about his brother with his mother, or when he tells his wife what he's been up to, talking with these killers they know. She says she would have stopped him if she knew, that his life could be in danger if he keeps digging up the past instead of forgetting. This gives the interviews a very real sense of tension, and you wonder if such a film could be made if it weren't for the involvement of outsiders who could be there with Adi.

Still, Adi puts up a strong front, asking why they did what they did. The answer's usually the same, they deny individual responsibility, or say that it was necessary. Sometimes their answers are disturbing, saying that they drank the blood of their victims to stay sane. Family members of the now-deceased murderer of his brother deny knowing anything about their father's work. In a very affecting scene, Adi's uncle, a prison guard in the army says he was unaware what happened to the detained after they were shipped off onto trucks each day. He's trying to keep up a strong resolve, but you can see the pain in his face when he talks about the past.

This film director chooses not to intrude on the telling of the stories with narration, but instead lets the interviewees tell their version of events, leaving pregnant pauses between answers to linger on their faces, which often tell more than spoken words ever could.

It's a very quite, slow film, but I found it hypnotic and a damning portrait of a country's silence after horrendous acts were committed. Adi gives a voice to the families of many victims, and both films should be watched by everyone to get a better understanding of the depths humanity can sink to, and how a nation struggles to cope with long dormant pain after government sanctioned genocide.

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