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The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing (2012, Oppenheimer)

The Act of Killing isn't only one of the greatest documentaries I've ever seen, it's one of the best films I've seen in months. A haunting testament, in which brave filmmaker interviews self proclaimed Indonesian gangsters who par took in the 1960 killing of communists. What separates this from other documentaries, is these men are asked to recreate these events in anyway they want, and what follows can shake a man to his core. An aged gangster named Anwar is the second director (in a sense) goes from boastful to believably humbled, in a micro level the ending is satisfying.

Anwar presenting the movie to his grandchildren

But on a macro level the film really shows how scary Indonesia is, a political party, Pemuda Pancasila, is truly boastful about the genocide, and are more than open about current corruption. Why wouldn't they be, the Vice President is a member, governors advocate killing Chinese neo communists, the mass murders are the hero's. A leader of a news paper speaks openly about how he changed statements of alleged communists to get them killed. Of course I always knew corruption is prevalent in developing regions, but i didn't realize this was something to be cocky about.

The recreations are frantically heartfelt, but have a sound surrealism. The colorful pictures make depictions of genocide and death, beautiful. I took great joy seeing the director momentarily breaking his silence at the end, it was honorable of him to make the film, and he kept a great balance of not intervening and putting in a word. During the credits half the names are just, Anonymous, even though the gangsters and media took pride in the genocidal heritage, perhaps the end result is something to fear for Indonesian culture. I will try to watch the extended 160 minute version eventually, but for now this has affected beyond any standard documentary.