Saturday, July 27, 2013

Indonesian Truth Commissions

In the 1960s there were anti-communist murders widespread, in which over a million people died, usually in a grizzly manner.  Usually there is no statute of limitations for murder, but maybe in Indonesia.  Fifty years later, we have a sort of "Truth Commission" set on film:
Mr. Oppenheimer’s camera observes the rehearsal and shooting of scenes that matter-of-factly evoke unspeakable moments of cruelty and that occasionally arouse powerful emotional responses in participants. At one point, a younger man who has been enlisted to play a torture victim relates the gruesome story of his stepfather’s abduction and murder by, one suspects, his fellow cast members. He tells the tale as if it were a joke, chuckling and assuring the others that he isn’t blaming or criticizing them, and he goes on to give a performance that is almost unbearably credible. Other re-enactments are so intense and realistic that they terrify the participants and cause some of the Pancasila Youth old-timers to marvel at their own sadism.
I doubt I'll watch it, but it does suggest possibilities.

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