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Calidad Revistas Científicas Españolas
Author / Jordi REVERT GOMIS PhD student in Communication. Language Theory and Communication Sciences Department. University of Valencia. Spain.
Article / Filming the face of death: representations of the perpetrators in S-21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge and The Act of Killing

Abstract /

The present work explores the depictions of the executioners in the documentaries S-21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine (S-21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge, Rithy Panh, 2003) and The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, 2012). In this analysis we study different strategies used in both films to make present the past through the memory in the body language and the processes of empathy. Torturers and murderers from the Khmer Rouge regime and from the killings of communists in Indonesia between 1965 and 1966 take part of these strategies to reveal the past. To such purpose, this study firstly proposes a reflection on the way the dominant modes of representation have depicted both historic episodes; and then a three-phase study determined by the strategies applied by both filmmakers: confrontation between the victims and the executioners, reenactment of the acts of torture and killing and the persistency of the past in the today empty spaces. The film analysis is applied on the mentioned films, focused on the analysis and depiction of the mise-en-scène and the expressiveness of the faces of the executioners, and particularly on those sequences that display a shared discourse by both directors.

Keywords /

Documentary film, genocide, Khmère rouges, Cambodia, Indonesia, executioners, reenactment

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