The act of killing

Posted on August 24, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

I was aware of all the positive reviews on the documentary, "The act of killing" ( directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and executive produced by Werner Herzog) when it was released here about 2 months ago, but with the subject matter and the heat wave ( yes, I am blaming the sunny weather), I was not ready to take on the 'challenge' yet.

As predicted, after spending almost three hours watching the director's cut, I left the cinema feeling quite numb. This has to be the most powerful and haunting documentary that I have seen in years, but it was also very hard to sit through. It is disturbing, shocking, ironic, dark, surreal and very intelligent. Like Sang Penari/ The Dancer ( a milder take on the subject) which I saw and wrote about in June, it focues on the dark history of Indonesia's political past, the "30 September Movement" in 1965, where more than half to two and a half million suspected Communists ( many of whom were ethnic Chinese) were slaughtered across Indonesia ordered by the military.

I shall not write about storyline nor the characters in the documentary, to me, this documentary is essentially about human beings and their conflicts between conscience and ego. How far can one go to bury one's conscience in order to protect the ego? We constantly see the main characters switching from feeling remorse to justifying their own actions, which also shows how conflicted they are deep in their subconscious mind.



This documentary is very important both for the relatives of the victims and for those who carried out the massacre. As of today, no one has been arrested nor punished for what had happened. And although this documentary does not offer a proper reconciliation, it does reveal the other side of the story and provides an opportunity for the executioners to reflect on their own actions. As we see at the end of the documentary, it was like a 'remedy' for Mr Congo ( the main character) to play a victim in his own film, when afterwards he claimed that he finally understood how the victims felt.


This post was posted in Films & documentaries and was tagged with documentaries