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The Act of Killing 2012

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3.9 out of 5 stars (85) IMDb 8.2/10
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Anwar Congo and his friends have been dancing their way through musical numbers, twisting arms in film noir gangster scenes, and galloping across prairies as yodelling cowboys. Their foray into filmmaking is being celebrated in the media and debated on television, even though Anwar Congo and his friends are mass murderers. Medan, Indonesia. When the government of Indonesia was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends were promoted from small-time gangsters who sold movie theatre tickets on the black market to death squad leaders. They helped the army kill more than one million alleged communists, ethnic Chinese, and intellectuals in less than a year. As the executioner for the most notorious death squad in his city, Anwar himself killed hundreds of people with his own hands.

Starring:
Haji Anif, Syamsul Arifin
Rental Formats:
DVD, Blu-ray

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 55 minutes
Starring Haji Anif, Syamsul Arifin, Sakhyan Asmara
Director Christine Cynn, Joshua Oppenheimer
Genres Documentary
Studio Dogwoof Digital
Rental release 25 November 2013
Main languages Indonesian, English
Discs
  • Feature exempt
Runtime 1 hour 55 minutes
Starring Haji Anif, Syamsul Arifin, Sakhyan Asmara
Director Christine Cynn, Joshua Oppenheimer
Genres Documentary
Studio Dogwoof Digital
Rental release 25 November 2013
Main languages Indonesian
Subtitles English

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It is quite unusual to come across a piece of film making that owes so little to what has gone before, it has to be absolutely unique. This is essentially a documentary about the Indonesian killing squads from the 1960's and what they did, but with them re-enacting their deeds.

The `gangsters' are all Hollywood movie fans and so Director and visionary Joshua Oppenheimer invites these men to make their own films about what they did. They can use any medium they like. So we have exotic dancers emerging from the mouth of a wooden fish building. Actors parading in front of a waterfall pretending to be in heaven and a re-enactment of a village massacre, to name but three. Plus the obligatory scenes of torture and execution, with some bizarre make up in places. I do not know how he got these men to talk about what they did or to show in such graphic detail.

I often make notes if I am going to write a review, normally only a few sentences, but I wrote two pages on this. The main guy is Anwar Congo who shows us his Hollywood inspired garrotting and dyes his hair especially for the re-enactments. They all talk with disarming frankness about their crimes insisting that they, as gangsters, were always going to be better than communists.

They ignore the contradiction with Islam being into drugs, alcohol, mass murder etc. They still extort the ethnic Chinese and were content to be filmed doing this. They strut around with impunity and some of the scenes they get people to act for them and they all seem to be genuinely terrified, especially the children. One of them keeps dressing up as his women victims in a grotesque parody of what really must have taken place. There is some remorse but to say too little, too late, is obviously not enough.
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Format: DVD
"The Act of Killing" (2013 release; 115 min.) is a documentary from writer-director Joshua Oppenheimer who sets out to interview/expose several of the "evil-doers" behind the mass killings that took place in Indonesia in 1965-66. As the documentary opens, we get to know Anwar Congo, one of those directly involved in these killings. Anwar and several of his croonies have decided, apparently with some coaxing and suggesting from Oppenheimer, to make a movie about the events from 65-66, so as to make sure everyone knows what really happened, including how exactly these killings were executed.

Several comments: first and foremost, in what kind of a world do we live in that these mass-murderers boast about what they did in the mid-60s without any fear of apprehension, let alone any regret over what they did? To the contrary, we see Anwar Congo and his croonies making the rounds of various media, including a national TV show, where the host merrily goes along. Likewise with Indonesia's politicians at the highest levels. Here is a Indonesian Vice-President addressing the Pancasila paramilitary oraganzation that did much of the killings in the mid-60s, there is the Minister of Information showing support for the making of the film, and on and on. It simple blows the mind. Second, it must be that these killers truly have no inkling why Oppenheimer is making this documentary, as they are on a very friendly and first-name basis with Oppenheimer throughout the movie. Third, the re-enactments make for difficult movie-watching at times, in particular the further we get into the movie. This is most definitely not for the faint of heart, so viewer beware.
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"All murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets", a quote from Voltaire is quickly followed by a shot of a giant fish with women dancers emerging from its mouth, plus a priest and a drag-queen in a day-glo blue dress. Within seconds, you've witnessed the surreal and disturbing essence of Joshua Oppenheimer's new documentary film `The Act of Killing'.

In mid 60′s Indonesia, a failed coup led to more than a million people being slaughtered in a bloody anti-communist cull. Many of the killings were carried out by paramilitaries and gangsters hired by the government, who have not only escaped prosecution, but are still seen as local heroes who collectively control much of Indonesia. Oppenheimer manages to convice these gangsters not just to interviews, but to re-enact their atrocities with the artistic licence to "create scenes about the killings in whatever way they wished". Not only were these gangsters only too happy to do it, Oppenheimer gives them more than enough rope to hang themselves.

We witness shocking stories from many despicable men, each worse than the last, but mostly concentrating on Anwar Congo. This sprightly 70-year old gangster could pass for an Indonesian Nelson Mandela, with his fuzzy white hair and taste in gaudily coloured shirts. His side-kick Herman Coto is more of a buffoon, and opts to dress in drag for the film, but you wouldn't mess with him. We meet a newspaper publisher who happily lied and sent innocent people to their death, the still celebrated paramilitary organisation Pancasila Youth that wiped out thousands of Chinese citizens, to many other graphic stories of guilt-free gangsters murdering and raping whoever they wanted to.
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