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Referred Pain: The Act of Killing and the Production of a Crime Scene

Author(s): Janet Walker


Source: Film Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 2 (Winter 2013), pp. 14-20
Published by: University of California Press
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REFERRED PAIN: THE ACT OF KILLING


AND THE PRODUCTION OF A CRIME SCENE
Janet Walker

of Lynndie England, advises Linda


Williams in an article on Errol Morriss Standard Operating
Procedure (2008).1 A former US Army reserve soldier convicted in connection with prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib
prison, England also answered for her past actions to a camera fitted with Morriss aptly titled device, the Interrotron.
Documentary subjects generally address an interviewer
positioned either on- or just off-camera. But with the Interrotrona kind of modified, mirrored teleprompterthe
interviewee addresses an image of Morris floating in front
of the lens. The sensation for viewers is that of an interlocutor with the option of looking us in the (collective) eyeto
convey firsthand knowledge, a bald-faced lie, an eyewitness
report riddled with mistakes, or any other shared thought
from among innumerable possibilities.
What the Interrotron provides, explains Williams, is
an opportunity to scrutinize witness demeanor in an
unprecedentedly detailed way, though totally in keeping
with the traditions of US jurisprudence.2 Body language,
gestures, vocal inflection, and the microphysiognomy of
the face are all crucial. Englands eyes shift left, shift further left, widen, and ultimately connect with ours. She is
not exactly the villain she seemed to be in all the pictures
of prisoner abuse, Williams discerns. But if she tries to
excuse herself as a low-ranking soldier caught up in acts
with prisoners that at first seemed weird but which she
came to rationalize as actually OK (standard operating
procedure, that is), her face nevertheless reenacts the
drama of acceptance.3
In 2004, Joshua Oppenheimer began filming with perpetrators of the Indonesian massacres of 19651966. Prior to
that time, he had already spent several years filming with
survivors. But the murders of more than half a million
people during the military coup were still unacknowledged
Consider the eyes

as such, and survivors he encountered in the plantation belt


outside Medan, North Sumatra, had not spoken publicly
about their experiences, certainly not for the audiovisual
record.4 The filming itself, Oppenheimer explains, constituted a danger to these would-be interlocutors. The perpetrators, for their part, felt no such inhibition. Oppenheimer
recalls that they were more than willing to help . . . boastfully describing their crimes against humanity. . . . Local
police would offer to escort us to sites of mass killing,
saluting or engaging the killers in jocular banter.5 In The
Act of Killing, Anwar Congo and company not only boast
and banter but also sing and dance their way through
interviews and a lavish film-within-the-film, shot in some
of the very spots where victims died, if not exactly on their
graves.
Here I wish to explore the strategies through which this
enormously significant documentary makes meaning, paradoxically, by cultivating and at the same time referring
elsewhere the audiences desire to discern worldly truths
in the physiognomy and bodily movements of a movie
theatre gangster turned mass killer.6 How does this film
give us to understand both the arresting power and the
inevitable indirection of perpetrator testimony?7 And how
does the film escort us to killing sites, which are increasingly called upon to perform as evidence/witness in political negotiations, international tribunals, and fact-finding
missions, while at the same time exposing the sociopolitical production of space?8 If history is written by the victors, so too are space and place. Inspired by studies of
traumatic testimony and anti-essentializing geography,
I seek to articulate the painful quandaries established by
this ground- and heart-breaking documentary in its act of
constituting a crime scene.

Testimony and Indirection


Film Quarterly, Vol. 67, No. 2, pps 1420, ISSN 0015-1386, electronic ISSN 1533-8630.
2014 by the Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Please
direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content
through the University of California Presss Rights and Permissions website, http://
www.ucpressjournals.com/reprintinfo.asp. DOI: 10.1525/FQ.2014.67.2.14

14

Oppenheimers focus is on Anwar Congo and his activity


of recounting and reenacting heinous deeds for which he is
known and celebrated. His testimony, disgorged in two

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Anwar dances the cha-cha on a haunted rooftop in The Act of Killing.

mind-blowing sequences on a roof terrace, is largely credible; no doubt he is a mass murderer.


In the first of these sequences (shot early in the filmmaking process), Anwar and a companion make their way
through a colorful handbag shop on the ground floor of the
building, climb the stairs, and emerge onto the rooftop.9
Theres many ghosts here. Because many people were
killed here, Anwar says. They arrived perfectly healthy,
he continues, mime-walking in a robust fashion. Then,
squatting with his neck contorted as if to ward off blows,
he details how these victims whom he is now embodying
were beaten to death. Standing, bending, and pointing, he
shows how and where the corpses were dragged and
dumped. In the next shot, Anwar explains how he and his
associates devised a clever solution to the problem of there
being too much smelly blood produced by that initial killing technique. A length of wood with a wire attached to
the middle pops into view from below the frame. Anwar is
holding it. Can I show you? he asks. Receiving an
answer in the affirmative, he demonstrates and narrates,
availing himself of the help of his companion who had
been standing by: Id tie the wire to this pole. Then, pulling over a tile for the other man to sit on (perhaps a thoughtful action to save the helpers pants from getting dirty),
Anwar wraps the wire around the mans neck and shows

how he pulled on the homemade garrote to complete the


job.
The sequence is testimonial in the fullest sense, including
as it does aspects often associated with fiction but actually
inherent in the nature of testimony.10 What is a documentary interview, after all, if not a staged event that comes into
being and exists for the purposes of a given film? I have
used the term enactment for cases where the orchestration
of subjects by the filmmaker is even more pronounced than
usual.11
I found him in Israel and persuaded that one-time boy
singer to return with me to Chelmno. He was then fortyseven years old, Claude Lanzmann famously communicated in the graphic text that opens Shoah (1985). Less
forced, more collaborative enactment may also occur. When
climbing the steps to the roof, Anwars companion carried
in his hand, but partially hidden by his cap, the garrote that
Anwar would flourish shortly thereafter. Reenactment is
also a feature of historically serious reminiscence even
though it involves, by definition, the re-creation of events
that occurred previously.12 In that first sequence on the roof,
Anwar reenacts his killing practice and also sings and dances
the cha-cha-cha as a reenactment of the good music and
dancing that along with marijuana and Ecstasy have been
his means of forgetting all this.
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15

In eliciting Anwars declarations, The Act of Killing is


contributing to a change in Indonesias landscape of impunity. Unlike Lynndie England, Anwar has not been legally
indicted; The Act of Killing may figure in future court proceedings. And yet, here it is state of mind rather than evidential detail that matters.13 As Oppenheimer has discussed,
after filming a dozen or so perpetrators, his questions started
to shift from What happened back in 1965? to Whats
going on now that these men can boast like this? . . . . For
whom are they boasting? How do they want to be seen by the
rest of the world? And how do they see themselves?14
Consider Anwars demeanor the second time on the roof
terrace (filmed years later).15 This is where we tortured
and killed the people we captured . . . I know it was wrong,
he acknowledges, but I had to do it. The sound of
retching emanates from his body-in-spasms. He makes it
over to what Robert Cribb has aptly described as a convenient trough, leans down, and dry heaves.16 If we are not
satisfied with Anwars verbal expression of remorse, here is
the somatic evidence. As in the case of the woman who
forgot the childhood sight of her best friends head bashed
in by a rock-wielding murderer, but developed an unconscious habit of pulling out her own hair in a bald and
bleeding patch, here too the body testifies: stomach bile and
spit will out.17 Not only does Anwar acknowledge his past
actions, he is also physically, visibly, and audibly revolted,
his body performing the drama of stupefaction.
But Errol Morris is skeptical. An executive producer of
the film, Morris has used this sequence to query whether
the vomiting is one more performance for himself and us
or the result of something real.18 In fact, the validity of
demeanor evidence itselfthis staple of legal proceedings
has been questioned as a means of sorting out truth from
lies.19 In any case, I would resist the opposition between
performance and something real and concur with
Oppenheimer that it is both at once.20
Furthermore, I choose to shift my own question from
what does this film reveal about Anwars state of mind?
to what does this film teach us about the vicissitudes of
testimony and the paradoxical role that fictive strategies
play in processes of truth and social justice?21 At one
point late in the film, Anwar watches two melodramatic
scenes from The Act of Killings film-within-a-film on
a television monitor, which scenes we see interspersed. The
first is blatantly fictional. A foaming waterfall and beautiful young women in flowing gowns embellish the ceremonial setting for Anwars receipt of a medal, conferred by
a dead man standing: For executing me and sending me
to heaven. The second is blatantly reenacted, with the
16

seasoned killer playing a torture victim. While his young


grandsons watch from his lap (over the objections of others
in the room) Anwar is reassuring, reminding them with
smiles and a chuckle that what they are looking at on the
monitor is only a movie.
But once they leave, he stares intently, face to face with
a crudely made-up bruised and bloodied version of himself. Did the people I tortured feel the way I do there? he
asks, head turning, eyes glued to the monitor. I can feel
what the people tortured felt, he asserts. Oppenheimer is
crouching near the camera, although we dont see him.
Actually, the people you tortured felt far worse, the
director says, because you know its only a film. They
knew they were being killed. Anwars eyes now pivot
between Oppenheimer and the monitor. But I can feel
it, Josh. Really, I feel it. Or have I sinned? He wipes his
face, continuing to stare at the monitor.22 The film has
moved beyond attempted determinations of guilt/innocence/credibility to epistemological profundities at the core
of human experience.
Where Lynndie England in Standard Operating Procedure looked into Morriss face floating in front of the
Interrotron, here Anwars look ranges between his own
role-playing visage on the television monitor and Oppenheimers crucial presence. The films substitution of monitor for Interrotron refracts the fixed gaze and injects
a fictive element that nevertheless facilitates a testimonial
process that is itself performative.23
Neither the fantasy of Anwar-as-lauded-executioner nor
that of Anwar-as-victim conforms to conventional truthseeking documentary practice. But these constructions
make meaning, nevertheless, according to the paradoxical
logic of traumatic testimony. Consider psychoanalyst Dori
Laubs presentation of a case of mistaken testimony (that
has possessed me over the years). A woman was eyewitness
to an insurrection at Auschwitz. Four chimneys burst into
flames, she explained years later to an interdisciplinary
group of auditors. [P]eople were running, it was unbelievable. Her words reverberated loudly, Laub recounts, in
a fixed silence in the room.24 But her declaration was not
factually accurate; only one chimney and not all four had
exploded. So Laub read the very exaggeration that the testimony encompassed:
She was testifying not simply to the empirical historical
facts, but to the very secret of survival and of resistance to
extermination . . . she saw, in other words, the unimaginable taking place right in front of her own eyes. And she
came to testify to the unbelievability, precisely, of what
she had eyewitnessedthis bursting open of the very

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Anwar explains to his grandchildren that these killings arent real in The Act of Killing.

frame of Auschwitz . . . this breakage of the frame that


her very testimony was now reenacting.25

Despite concentrating on perpetrators rather than survivors, The Act of Killing also arrays these features of traumatic testimony. There is a pronounced, excessive vitality
to the traumatic (re)enactments that Anwar embodies.
Punctuated by silence. Could he really have killed hundreds of people with that crude garrote? Most of the (re)enactments are typical of, rather than specific to, any
particular killing. Anwar is testifying via words and
actions not simply to the empirical historical facts, but
to a different and essential part of the historical truth
to the unbelievability, preciselyof the extreme violence
he and others perpetrated.26
Again, this is not to dismiss the significance of historical
fact nor Anwars culpability. On the contrary, just as
knowledge of the actual number of chimneys exploded
at Auschwitz is a necessary condition of Laubs reading
of the womans testimony, so too the meaning of Anwar
Congos testimony and the film as a whole will continue to
become legible in relation to the multitudinous material
facts of history that will be brought to bear and scrutinized
in many quarters. Fellow killer Adi Zulkadry believes that
the statute of limitations on their crimes has run out. But

amnesties can be overturned and international tribunals


constituted. The editorial interspersal of Anwars emotional exclamations before the monitor with the otherwise
asynchronous and noncontiguous scenes depicted on the
screen-within-a-screen bursts open the frame and unreconciled advent of the Indonesian massacres. The Act of Killing
is an event in its own right, its truths forceful but productively indirect.27
Production of the Crime Scene

As forensic media scholar Greg Siegel has written,


Crimes visited upon human bodies have always happened
somewhere rather than nowhere. Assaults, murders, acts
of torture, and other corporal violations have always, of
necessity, taken place.28 In The Act of Killing the rooftop is
such a site; as is the river that Anwar, his sidekick Herman
Koto, and Adi Zulkadry drive past in their extended tour
of landmarks of atrocity; as is the former Medan Post
newspaper building to which the movie gangsters came
to kill, waltzing across the street after an evening at the
cinema. When Oppenheimer mentions his initial introduction to some of the boasting killers, he relates that the
interactions took place at sites of mass killing to which
he was escorted.
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17

Anwar looks away, as militia members capture a villager in the massacre reenactment in The Act of Killing.

But how do physical properties matter? Siegels statement that the crimes visited upon human bodies happen
somewhere rather than nowhere is followed in his text
by a crucial qualification: Yet, it is not true, historically,
that wherever there have been violent crimes there have
been crime scenes. The crime scene, he writes,
is . . . a product of the emergence in the nineteenth century of forensic science . . . established (and continually
reestablished) through complex practices of marking,
looking, calculating, interpreting, and rendering. It is
actively made, not immediately given, a formation simultaneously material and symbolic.29

How, then does The Act of Killing combine places and


persons to sense, map, trouble, transmitand in fact to
constitutethe geography of atrocity it might seem only
to revisit and re-create?30 As I have been discussing, the film
is deliberate in its location work. In contrast to the enormous archive of Holocaust testimony recorded at a physical
as well as temporal distance from where and when the
events being recounted occurred, some of the recountings
and reenactments of The Act of Killing have been filmed in
the very spots where torture and murder took place.31
Filming was also carried out in other locations away
from where the events being reenacted actually transpired.
18

The films village massacre sequences reference the destruction of Kampung Kolam outside Medan where the Pancasila Youth raped, looted, and killed villagers after targeting
the area as a communist base, but they were shot on the
set of a village built and burned for the purpose.32 Some of
the interrogation and torture scenes depicting the Medan
offices were actually shot on what is obviously a sound
stage, located at the TVRI (Televisi Republik Indonesia
North Sumatra) Sumatera Utara television studios.33
A sequence with Anwar and crew discussing their love
of westerns, singing Hello Bandung, and demonstrating
how they killed by placing the victims neck under a table
leg and then hopping up onto the table was filmed in
a rented house rather than in the Medan office where such
killings actually occurred. The scene Anwar watches on
the monitor before ascending to the roof was filmed in that
same house.34
These variations in site-specificity matter deeply, for it
is in and through this work of historically informed but
creatively realized re-inhabitation that the film helps cultivate a new sense of space and place.35 The most significant achievement of The Act of Killingits essence as
a masterpieceis the establishment of the area in and
around Medan as a crime scene. Of course, all too many
people have reason to know North Sumatra as an

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environment where corporal violations and deaths took


place. When Oppenheimer was filming the village massacre scene on a built set, rumors reached him of a mass
grave a mere two hundred meters away.36 But this is geographic knowledge that has not been publicly circulated.
By enacting testimony and reenacting killing events in the
places where they actually occurred and in rural and urban
spaces reconstructed for the purpose, this film actively remakes this heretofore unmarked terrain as a fatal
environment.37
Cathy Caruth has written that [t]he impact of a traumatic event lies not only in its temporal belatedness [as an
event that cannot be experienced or assimilated at the time]
but also in its refusal to be simply located, in its insistent
appearance outside the boundaries of any single place or
time.38 In this psychoanalytic respect and in this film,
traumatic space, like testimony and occurrence, is profoundly unassimilable. The Act of Killing exposes the pervasiveness of sites of killing, sedimented within the social,
political, economic, and geographical landscape where
government officials, business leaders, media professionals,
paramilitaries, and retired killers continue to run riot. The
film is painfully but productively creative of an expansive
territory where survivors and others may yet find new
bearings and make new impressions on the landscape.
Authors Note

3.

4.

5.
6.
7.

8.

9.

I would like to thank Deirdre Boyle and Steve Nelson for the
inspiration to see The Act of Killing as soon as it arrived in my
vicinity and for the knowledge and insights they each shared
in our conversations. A warm thank you to Michael Hanley
and Ariel Nelson for guidance on questions of legal evidence,
and B. Ruby Rich and Regina Longo for inviting and facilitating this contribution to the dossier. And to Joshua Oppenheimer for responding to my queries; I am deeply grateful and
stand in awe.

10.

11.

Notes
1. Linda Williams, Cluster Fuck: The Forcible Frame in
Errol Morriss Standard Operating Procedure, Jump Cut: A
Review of Contemporary Media 52 (Summer 2010): 2. http://
www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc52.2010/sopWilliams/index.
html. This article is adapted from a longer essay that appears
in Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies 25,
no. 1 (2010): 2967.
2. Williams, Camera Obscura, 37. Williams brilliantly incorporates into documentary analysis the legal concept of
demeanor evidence, which concept she has discussed elsewhere in relation to jury trails and the culture of race and
melodrama. In its legal definition, demeanor evidence is

12.

The behavior of a witness on the witness stand, to be considered by the fact-finder on the issue of credibility; Blacks
Law Dictionary, Seventh Edition, ed. Bryan A. Garner (St.
Paul, MN: West Group, 1999), 577.
Williams, Jump Cut, 23. As Williams discusses, in a documentary film, facial expressions become meaningful in relation to shot composition and editing.
Robert Cribb, The Indonesian Killings of 19651966: Studies
from Java and Bali (Clayton, CA: Monash University Centre
of Southeast Asian Studies, 1990), and Robert Cribb, How
Many Deaths? Problems in the Statistics of Massacre in
Indonesia (19651966) and East Timor (19751980), in Violence in Indonesia, ed. Ingrid Wessel and Georgia Wimhofer
(Hamburg: Abera, 2001).
Joshua Oppenheimer, Directors Statement, official The
Act of Killing website. http://theactofkilling.com/statements/.
Synopsis, official The Act of Killing website. http://theact
ofkilling.com/synops/.
On the subject of documentaries concerning perpetrators of
violence see Raya Morags essay, Perpetrator Trauma and
Current Israeli Documentary Cinema, Camera Obscura 27,
no. 2 (2012): 93132, and her book, Waltzing with Bashir:
Perpetrator Trauma and Cinema (London: I. B. Tauris, 2013).
See also Jonathan Kahana, Speech Images: Standard Operating Procedure and the Staging of Interrogation, Jump Cut
52 (Summer 2010).
Eyal Weizman, Forensic Architecture: Notes from Fields and
Forums/Forensische Architektur. Notizen von Feldern und
Foren, dOCUMENTA 13, no. 62 (9/6/201216/9/2012): 6.
Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald
Nicholson-Smith (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1991 [1972]).
Joshua Oppenheimer, transcript of video interview with
Amy Goodman, The Act of Killing: New Film Shows
U.S.-Backed Indonesian Death Squad Leaders Reenacting Massacres, Democracy Now! A Daily Independent
Global News Hour. July 19, 2013, 7, 15. http://www.democracynow.org.2013/7/19/the_act_of_killing_new_film.
For a discussion of the many forms and meanings of documentary testimony, see Documentary Testimonies: Global
Archives of Suffering, ed. Bhaskar Sarkar and Janet Walker
(London and New York: Routledge, 2010). The legal meaning also resonates.
Janet Walker, Trauma Cinema: Documenting Incest and the
Holocaust (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005),
chaps. 4 and 5. See also Janet Walker, Moving Testimonies:
Unhomed Geography and the Holocaust Documentary of
Return, in After Testimony: The Ethics and Aesthetics of
Holocaust Narrative for the Future, ed. Jakob Lothe, Susan
Rubin Suleiman, and James Phelan (Columbus: Ohio State
University Press, 2012).
Noah Shenker provides the example of the Lithuanian
Holocaust survivor Nesse Godin testifying to the defiant
action of a ghetto inhabitant accused of smuggling and about
to be hanged by the Gestapo. She us[ed] her hands to mimic
the motions of the condemned man, explains Shenker,
tying an imaginary noose around her neck, and speaking
with intense defiance in repeating the words: Thou shalt not
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19

13.

14.

15.
16.

17.

18.
19.

20.
21.

20

kill . . . I will do it myself. Noah Shenker, Embodied


Memory: The Institutional Mediation of Survivor Testimony in the United States, in Sarkar and Walker, Documentary Testimonies, 4647. Further, Bill Nichols explains
that while the verite boys of the 1960s . . . proclaimed
everything except what took place in front of the camera
without rehearsal or prompting to be a fabrication, inauthentic, in point of fact the use of reenactments in documentary
filmsthat is to say the more or less authentic re-creation of
prior eventswas an established practice before the 1960s
and has become so again. Bill Nichols, Documentary Reenactment and the Fantasmatic Subject, Critical Inquiry 35,
no. 1 (Autumn 2008): 72.
Previous writers on the film have attempted to discern
Anwars state of mind. See, for example, Errol Morris, The
Murders of Gonzago: How Did We Forget the Mass Killings in Indonesia? And What Might They Have Taught Us
about Vietnam? (alternate title, The Forgotten Mass Killings That Should Have Stopped the Vietnam War), Slate
Magazine: Politics, Business, Technology, and the Arts online.
Posted July 10, 2013. http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/
history/2013/07/the_act_of_killing_essay_how_indonesia_
s_mass_killings_could_have_slowed.html. See also Robert
Cribb, Review: An Act of Manipulation? Inside Indonesia
112 (AprJun 2013), http://www.insideindonesia.org/
feature-editions/review-an-act-of-manipulation; and Ariel
Heryanto, The Review: The 19651966 Killings, The Newsletter 61 (Autumn 2012), at http://www.yumpu.com/en/
document/view/3791355/the-act-of-killing-iias.
Oppenheimer, interview with Goodman, 8. Another debatable state of mind is that of Nuon Chea, Khmer Rouge
leader Pol Pots second in command, seen in Enemies of the
People (Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, 2009). Is he truly
sorry for the killings of co-director Thet Sambaths family
members during the Cambodian genocide or for the killing
fields he played a key role in filling?
Oppenheimer, interview with Goodman, 15.
Cribb, Review: An Act of Manipulation?, 1. I cannot fully
discern the wetness of vomit in this or a second episode of
retching by this man garbed in a suit the color of which
appears (following European usage) as a bilious puce green.
Lenore Terr, Unchained Memories: True Stories of Traumatic
Memories, Lost and Found (New York: Basic Books, 1994),
chaps. 1 and 2.
Morris, Murders of Gonzago, 15.
See, for example, Jeffrey A. Blumenthal, A Wipe of the
Hands, A Lick of the Lips: The Validity of Demeanor Evidence in Assessing Witness Credibility, 72 Nebraska Law
Review 1157 (1993), and Olin Guy Welborn III, Demeanor,
76 Cornell Law Review 1075 (1991).
Oppenheimer in Morris, Murders of Gonzago, 15.
Michael Renov introduced the word fictive into the discussion of documentary in the introduction to his edited
volume, Theorizing Documentary (New York: Routledge,
1993).

22. Errol Morris brilliantly calls on Hamlets play-with-the-play


to discuss the complications of a perpetrator being confronted
by a reenactment of his crimes. Morris, Murder of Gonzago, 1214.
23. Actually the presence of the mirror in the Interrotron device
suggests that there too more angles of the gaze exist than are
readily apparent.
24. Dori Laub, Bearing Witness, or the Vicissitudes of Listening, in Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History, by Shoshana Felman and Dori Laub
(New York: Routledge, 1992), 59.
25. Laub, Bearing Witness, 6263. Matters are actually even
more complex since, according to Thomas Trezise, Laubs
own frames of reception include the likely creation of
a composite witness by joining the testimonies of three separate women in the figure of this one woman of whom he
writes. See Thomas Trezise, Witnessing Witnessing: On the
Reception of Holocaust Survivor Testimony (New York: Fordham University Press, 2013), 26.
26. Laub, Bearing Witness, 62.
27. Laub, Bearing Witness, 62.
28. Greg Siegel, The Similitude of the Wound, Cabinet 43
(2011): 95100, on 96.
29. Siegel, Similitude, 96.
30. The historian Robert Jan van Pelt in Errol Morriss Mr.
Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (1999) uses
the term geography of atrocity to refer to the ruins of the
crematoria at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
31. Yet, as suggested above, Lanzmanns Shoah does contain
passages featuring subjects who have been deployed in
a landscape or brought into contact with one another for the
deliberate purposes of documentary interest. This is true of
other Holocaust documentary titles as well, including the
Academy-Award-winning The Last Days (1998).
32. Oppenheimer, interview with Goodman, 10.
33. Personal email communication from Joshua Oppenheimer,
September 12, 2013.
34. Personal communication from Joshua Oppenheimer, September 12 and October 2, 2013.
35. David Gray has developed the concept of mis-situated testimony to analyze the import of testimony and reenactment of
actual events in places where other atrocities, but not the ones
being depicted, occurred. See David Gray, What to Do
Starting from This Place: Documentary Production and
Official Memorialization, chap. 2 in Placing Memory: Postdictatorial Documentaries in the Southern Cone (PhD dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara, forthcoming).
36. Personal communication from Joshua Oppenheimer, September 12, 2013.
37. The term fatal environment is adapted from its use by
Richard Slotkin in The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the
Frontier in the Age of Industrialization 18001890 (Norman:
Oklahoma Press, 1985, 1994).
38. Cathy Caruth, ed., Trauma: Explorations in Memory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 9.

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