The Act of killing

The documentary “The act of killing” broke in Indonesia the long silence around one of the darkest chapters of its history: the slaughter of at least half a million people by its supposed connection to the communist party.

This film, directed by the American Joshua Oppenheimer , has opened for the first time the public debate of events that occurred almost half a century ago, during the last years of the government of the president by Sukarno, to lose control over the Army and to collapse its politics of balance Of the nationalistThe film, which has not received the official authorization to be displayed in the cinemas of the country, contains the version of what happened to several Indonesians who participated directly in the persecution of sympathizers and members of the communist party and have never Been tried

The main protagonist of the film is identified with the name of Anwar Congo, a septuagenarian from the north of the island of Sumatra who openly acknowledges that he killed several hundred people for his alleged militancy in the communist ranks. On camera Anwar is charming, almost goofy, with a big smile and a naiveté that seems to mask a secret cunning. Contrast his gentle character with the terrible deeds he describes—he proudly claims to have personally killed a thousand people—and you’ve got cinematic gold. Oppenheimer explained to Efe that it was easy to convince Congo and others of the “executioners” to agree to appear in the film, which for him still means “a clear symptom of the climate of impunity and the applause that these crimes receive.”

This film disgusted me, but I am sure that was the intent. The main character in the final scenes awkwardly dry heaving, was that for our benefit? So the world knows that after 40 years he “understood” what all of those people went through? The Act of Killing actually attempts to address the question of what Anwar thinks of the film. The Act of killing it’s such a complex document, so multilayered and self-reflexive, that the story behind the movie is even more compelling to me than the story it tells.

4 thoughts on “The Act of killing

  • May 9, 2017 at 6:04 pm

    Last week documentary the act of killing was an interesting film, Indonesia government gets over thrown by their military. Reasoning for it was to stop the spread of communism, Indonesian citizens were killed by mob/gangster if they thought they were communist without any evidence. Since this was apparently stopping the spread of communism little action was done to try to stop these murders. The act of killing is such an interesting film because we see the point of view of the gangsters who killed hundreds maybe thousand people and get to see their point of view. Taking local merchants money to straight burning down villages being a so called gangster back then was a wild lifestyle. Even though I don’t agree in the action of the gangsters I do understand why they did it most of these men come from poverty and probably a broken home these men were pretty much given an opportunity once the government was over thrown to get paid stopping the spread of the red scare. So they did what they had to do even though some seemed just enjoy the lifestyle. One of the main charters in the film shows us all the ways he would kill people and to get as detailed for what he would wear. The director would have the men reenact there killing techniques and the main charter watching himself reenact actually says I would never wear white pants if he was about to kill someone. Even though later on in the film in another reenactment he watches himself get integrated and feels scared telling the director but director makes him relies that he was only acting and what he did was actually real life. This must have been the turning point for the main charter because later on he goes back to spot where he used to kill people pretty much has a meltdown, main charter seems to realize after several years went by the horrors he has down and is sick of himself to the point he starts the gag. If you ask me I thought it was a bit much after all these years you finally disgusted with yourself I don’t really buy it. witch is why i agree with Anthony on his opinion on why this film had him disgusted.

  • May 13, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    I agreed on feeling ‘Disgusted’ on him with you because all of sudden taking a film of his past life with his ‘gangs’ and felt disgusted himself?
    To me, if he felt guilty about what he did a longtime ago, he should realized on that time. That is why I doubted about ‘puking’is a fake action. How come he lives well without morality.
    On the other scene, he called his grandchildren to watch him on film which he was being tortured by his man and he became a one of his victims and it was very contradiction of him. It was really sick to me he was soooo proud of himself.
    Heaven…? I guess NOT a chance to him and his gangs.

  • May 15, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    I agree with you too Antony this film was disturbing in everyday. i really don’t know how someone can sit there and renact how they tortured and killed people. They did this with no problem too. It 100% looked like they has no remorse for what they did. In my opinion i think that the two guy telling the events were solely acting because if someone really felt bad for what they did, they wouldn’t be retelling the story willingly. You would see it in their faces. I think this film was obviously acted out but also the two that were telling the story were faking that they had remorse for what they did.

  • May 16, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    Yeah, Kostas has a good point about them not having remorse for what they did. The fact that they’re able to reenact the torturing and killing of people with no hesitation is just brutal. Most of the killers throughout the documentary just had this extremely gruesome detail when describing some of their kills or attacks. It was also pretty crazy that at some of these gangsters or murderer of so many people were seen as local heroes. Later on toward the end of he film I noticed how one in particular had stated that his victims visit him in his sleep. I just think that this whole effort to stop the spread of communism by killing Indonesian citizens that were thought to be communist with no type of evidence against them was sick .
    Also, I agree that that ending was definitely notable too. I talked about this on my response paper after the film that the man at the end is not really disgustingly coughing up his soul but coughing up his disgusting soul. I wanted to say that it was an exaggeration but I know certain things can really make a person’s stomach wretch and turn in pain at the disgust. Also Antonio, you should try to split up your response up a little bit so it’s easier to read as you had some nice points.


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