Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Friday, 09 August 2013 00:00

'The Act of Killing' documents a chilling, appalling story

'The Act of Killing' documents a chilling, appalling story cinema-scope.com
Written by Diane Carson
Rate this item
(0 votes)

About this Media...

  • Director: Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cyn, and Anonymous
  • Dates: Opened August 9, 2013

An extraordinary and chilling documentary, "The Act of Killing" chronicles exactly that in unprecedented ways. Several Indonesian men reenact, unabashedly, even proudly, ways they brutally tortured and murdered individuals in the 1965-66 purge primarily of communists, among other targeted groups such as local Chinese workers. Some killers now hold office, with no punishment for their heinous acts.

After an unsuccessful coup in 1965, dubbed the 30 September movement, the military eventually overthrew Indonesia's President Sukarno in March 1967. Major General Suharto took control. After October 1965, first in Jakarta and then expanding throughout Java and into Bali, death squads massacred upwards of one million people. This documentary focuses on Anwar Congo and his friends, all deeply involved in the genocide.

Protracted, deeply disturbing stagings of massacres and individual killings dominate the film. Under the direction of the original killers, actors are cast to play the roles for a village destroyed and burned (the Kampung Kolam massacre). The effect of the reenactment is gut wrenching for the actors and all sensitive viewers. Meantime, various killers focus on their appearance, modeling themselves after John Wayne and American movie gangsters. In one surreal episode, a bizarre musical number takes over, another genre the killers loved.

Unrepentant and unpunished, these men continue to intimidate shop owners and local citizens, while being celebrated by their followers, as shown at a local rally. It's not surprising, then, that the credits read "Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and Anonymous," the latter because one co-director, along with approximately 20 crew members who also listed themselves as anonymous, fear retaliation, so many death squad leaders still enjoy considerable power in Indonesia and, as we also see, still enjoy intimidating people.

With "The Act of Killing" running just over two hours, the inhumane ugliness and casual cruelty of the death merchants are horrendous to watch, including a demonstration of strangling with wire. This horrid chapter in Indonesian history is little known there or around the globe before this somber, sobering film. In English and in Indonesian with English subtitles, at a Landmark Theatre.

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

KDHX Recommends

April
Monday
20

KDHX Get Down to Business Series: Make Networking Not Suck: The artist as entrep...

Get Down to Business is a series of professional development presentations geared towards the St. Louis arts community. Presented in partnership with St. Lou Fringe, "Make Networking Not Suck: The artist as entrepreneur"...


April
Monday
20

Zappa Plays Zappa with Dweezil Zappa

Zappa Plays Zappa Doors: 7pm | Show: 8pm $25ADV/$30DOS | $50 VIP (includes early entry soundcheck party and poster) All Ages Welcomed by KDHX, Schlafly, and Vintage Vinyl   Ticket information


April
Tuesday
21

KDHX Discovery Series: Sean Watkins, Joseph Lemay

Sean Watkins co-founded Nickel Creek when he was just 12 years old, kickstarting a career that's taken him from the stage of the Grammy Awards to the top of the bluegrass charts. Along the way, he's become an award-winning...


Online Users

6 users and 10197 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook