The question is never about violence in ﬁ lm, or about how violence aff ects the viewing experience, because all ﬁ lms are, in one way or another, violent. Rather, the question is how ﬁ lm, and in particular postcolonial ﬁ lm, can deploy violence so as to reﬂ ect on and problematize it.1 Surely questioning the aestheticization of violence and how to manage our pleasure in ﬁ lmic violence are important topics in themselves. However, even though I do not intend to push the point that all forms of representation are, by their very nature, essentially violent, my driving question at the moment has much more to do with the ways in which some postcolonial ﬁ lms critique violence without falling into the trap of mere avoidance. After all, as Slavoj Žižek remarks at the conclusion of his incisive, if at times seemingly ﬂ ippant, study of violence, ‘sometimes, doing nothing is the most violent thing to do’ (Žižek 2008: 183). The study of violence in ﬁ lm has long been an important topic with overt political goals, claims, and consequences. Clearly irreverent, although on the reverse political side, are Quentin Tarantino’s remarks on how violence in the movies is good, because of its entertainment value.2 And yet, as objectionable as such a view might be, its applicability can be sobering. My interest is neither with such opinions and their possible media value as outrageous nor with the continuous cries of moral decadence brought on by the seemingly ever-increasing use of violence in popular spectacle, but rather with the ways in which ﬁ lm can address and problematize the systemic violence characteristic of colonial and imperial relations, which is still largely operative in contemporary society. In order to do so, I have chosen to focus on two ﬁ lms: Margarida Cardoso’s A Costa dos Murmúrios (The Murmuring Coast) from 2004 and Fatih Akin’s Auf der anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven) from 2007. Both ﬁ lms to a great extent eschew direct visualizations of physical violence, yet both are permeated with an intense kind of violence that can, arguably, be much more disturbing. This representation forces viewers to confront the ways in which our
present society is suff used by a pervasive and inescapable violence that conditions who we are as subjects-individually and collectively.