I witness: Re-presenting trauma in and by cinema

Tamar Ashuri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers how film helps reconcile a traumatic collective past through representation of a personal trauma. It focuses on the role of witnesses in conveying their experiences regarding events that have traumatized them. The author suggests that a witness to a traumatic event performs the excess of an event that has transformed him or her. By framing the witness as a performer rather than a mere conduit for transferring knowledge to the uninformed, the article underscores the communicative dimension of witnessing by studying this process as an ongoing interplay between addressers and addressees who undergo mutual transformations in and by this action. These arguments are presented through an examination of the film Waltz With Bashir (2008), in which its director documented his struggle to come to terms with his personal trauma surrounding the part he played in the Lebanon War. The author suggests that by performing this loss of experience, the director turns the audience into witnesses, thus transforming a personal loss of experience into a collective experience of loss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-192
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2010
Externally publishedYes


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