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A spine-tingling documentary, The Act of Killing, makes great use of the theme of duality by throwing the viewer into a wretched abyss of mundane madness and grotesque violence. The documentary opens with beautiful scenery, escapades of mountains and colors envelope the eyes while a director off-screen reminds the dancers, âdonâ(TM)t let the cameras catch you looking bad!â? A clear ominous foreshadowing theme is slabbed upon the viewerâ(TM)s forehead as they slowly delve deeper into this ghastly film, one where fiction and reality cross paths with quietly earth-shattering results. The documentary almost relies solely on the subjects being filmed to drive, and subsequently expose themselves in this documentary. This gives the film a much more neutral and observing sensation to the viewer with barely any attempts to swindle the viewers mind in one direction. Director, Joshua Oppenheimer does well to encapsulate the overall theme of duality not only by examining the awful reality of murder but also that of its re-enactment.
Oppenheimer nails it with the theme of duality in his documentary. For the next two hours viewers are left in the company of laughing, joking mass-murderers, blithely revisiting their blood-drenched past in a manner that is disturbingly surreal and distressingly domestic. Anwar Congo, the lead role in Oppenheimerâ(TM)s documentary recalls the heyday of legitimized slaughter, demonstrating the easiest way to strangle a man with a length of wire and a piece of wood, while seconds before he was quoted saying, âIt was as if we were killingâ¦happily.â? These decapitations are later re-enacted with cheap makeup and gory props. The â~gangstersâ(TM) are seen and heard talking about Hollywood gangster and western movies saying that their re-enactments would surpass that of Hollywood movies.
Most shockingly, is the recreation on the attack on a village in which families were slaughtered and burned out of their homes. During the filming, one subject jokes about the rape of children in off-hand terms that defy either description or repetition. It is at this point where one appears to have reached the nadir of the human condition, the lowest, most vile and purely evil of depth. Yet, in the midst of it all, a glimmer shimmers, a light bulb engulfs the room with radiant light exposing all, it dawns on this would-be film actors the idea that what they are doing may be wrong. It begins with one leader stating, âWe shouldnâ(TM)t look so brutalâ?, while another states, â I never thought it would look so bad.â? Role reversals add to the impact, with killers playing their victims, stumbling toward something resembling empathy, seeing their own actions as if for the first time â" finally real, only when unreal.
This film will never be easy to watch it depicts murder and innocence as one in the same, and for most thatâ(TM)s something evil in itself. The word "Anonymous" appears frequently (and ominously) in the credits. Yet perhaps those fleeting, dawning moments of self-realization are justification enough, the voice of the subconscious violently screaming of self-doubt offering a glimmer of hope: "We murdered people and were never punished"; "Even God has secrets"; "Not everything true is good"; "Have I sinned?" From the rippling sea bed of this vast plague rises the infinitesimal voice of self-awareness, the distant echo of some long-forgotten conscience, captured on camera at the moment of its conception. By the end of the movie I found myself as I would after any horror movie, scared, thoughts racing of the possibilities of this being real, adrenaline, even hysteria as I soon realized this was a much different horror flick. One where what we all saw, was real.
This film was solid.
A dark meditation on our inherent ability to transmute sin into grief or denial.
Crazy shit. Outlandish to the point that it gets funny.
A film that delves far into the buried and hidden history behind the shadows. Indonesia has a dark yet ambiguous history which the communist is considered cruel by these individuals. This is a movie full of horror, astonishment, and twist which is capable of being at the top level of plays an emotion. A film that changes the mindset of a person who is truly irresponsible but painful to acknowledge.
An American documentarian travels to Indonesia and speaks to the thugs that committed hundreds if not thousands of political murders at the behest of the government in the late 60's. They are not repentant. They speak proudly of what they have done. Why shouldn't they? The current government praises their actions and they appear on talk shows happily discussing their murders. If this isn't strange enough, the filmmakers get them to produce their own film depicting the murders. Their film is a surreal, ugly spectacle that glorifies their mass slaughter with musical numbers. This is a profoundly disturbing film. It really challenges any notion you might have that the world can be a sane place. I think it's brilliant. and what the filmmakers managed to do is an incredible accomplishment, and I never never never want to see this again.
Show starts off slow but slowly develops into one of the most chilling documentaries. The journey of Anwar throughout the filming process towards his eventual cognisance is truly a spectacle.
A fantastic film, showing a different way to approach a documentary.
One of the best documentaries - and movies - of all time.
'The Act of Killing' is a harsh and necessary reminder that absolute power corrupts absolutely. Documentarian Joshua Oppenheimer chronicles some of the most vicious people in Indonesia by getting the inside scoop from the horses mouth. These "gangsters" are proud and all to willing to talk in great detail of how they eradicated "communists" from their home country. The result is a sickening and graphic portrait that deserves watching. It's captivating, yet the viewer may need to step away from time to time just to catch his or her breath.
It's a great display of when journalists sit out and side with power and pretend they are doing their job what can happen to a society.
Watching this may be a necessary evil for those who don't believe a democracy can be oppressed by a few strong men who accumulate power.