Plot: In 1965 the Indonesian government was overthrown by the military. Anybody opposed to the military dictatorship could be accused of being a communist: union members, landless farmers, intellectuals, and the ethnic Chinese. In less than a year, and with the direct aid of Western governments, over 1 million "communist" were murdered. The army used paramilitaries and gangsters to carry out the killings. These men have been in power/and have persecuted their opponents/ ever since. When we met the killers, they proudly told us stories about what they did. To understand why, we asked them to create scenes about the killings in whatever ways they wished. This film follows that process, and documents its consequences.
My Review and Thoughts:
First off if you know me I love a good documentary, the more reality that builds in the process of the film, the better the subject unfolds. The director Joshua Oppenheimer has a talent with capturing great quality of history and turning the story into a deep reality based process that the viewer can believe; that the story is real. The film makes you feel the characters, the surroundings and most all the history that is haunting and painful, because it's created so we'll.
From the ocean of the opening, from a comment by Voltaire: “It is forbidden to kill. Therefore, all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers, and to the sound of trumpets." This documentary truly changed my life, truly gave me an experience of a visionary masterpiece; if I should say that, because of the subject matter. I had in all honesty felt the reality of this documentary. I had no knowledge of it until I looked at one of my fellow movie friend’s choices of films of the year and this was on it.
I asked Rob Sibley was it good, should I give it a go and he said "it's the best documentary and that it will change your life", and boy was he right. I'm so glad I ordered this film. I'm so glad I own this film, because it's something like I've never seen before, experienced before and most of all, it touched on all the emotions, the heart, the mind, the attitude and the nature leaping inside my very soul.
You picture the characters, the places, and the moments. I am a huge fan of crime history and this plays out perfect and flawless on the screen of a criminal history.
Oppenheimer knows how to capture perfect moments of tension and suspense and a tear jerking unbelievable truth. The deep reenactments, work out flawless, playing out from the very first story and becomes just priceless. Holds strong and holds nothing back.
The process, the ordeal of going through moments detailed in an atmosphere from the written history and the thoughts and words of those involved create a vivid unrelenting picture; deep inside the viewer’s mind.
I felt deeply enthralled with this film. It made me feel uncomfortable at times, and somewhat horribly giddy. It made me in away remember others pain, history and surprisingly a surreal beauty.
Truly a brutal realization, shockingly asinine as you hear these killers who are wealthy and political and apart of the main system of Indonesia today describe their ways of murdering innocent people as if it was nothing.
One-shot truly is atmospherically haunting. Anwar one of the murderers talk about how they use to corral people in and beat them to death, but there was so much blood, because of the beatings that he created his own little system. He demonstrated how he would wrap a wire, sort of like a coat hanger around a pipe structure and then would wrap it around the person’s neck and then pull and choke them to death, kind of like a garrote.
Joseph creates a flawless atmosphere of the past, the grand story telling of this mass murder. This sad historical reality is thought provoking, mind numbing and it pulls at your heartstrings. The beauty of this is it's mixed with many filmed moments of drama, history, reality and so much more that it creates its own little world of amazement.
The past is written in many wonderful ways but the greatest is by the tongues who lived it and that's what this film details. The back-story to the event in itself, flows like a great memory in history and yet mixes with a sense of horrible tragedy as you hear the emotions, the ordeals, the horror's that people went through. I in honesty shed some tears at the horrible understanding and graphic thick reality that is filmed.
The created quality of this documentary is a perfect masterpiece of a haunting wonderment. Werner Herzog and Errol Morris present The Act of Killing, to the world. The film is flawlessly created and directed by Joseph Oppenheimer.
What's so haunting is that these people, are celebrated as heroes and yet they were death squad leaders. They created a true genocide. They killed at will and yet it doesn't faze them that they brutalized, murdered and exterminated people.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like for actual war criminals to act out their own crimes such as the Nazi SS members; to say to them film what you did to the people, that's what this details. It showcases these executioners, these genocide, these mass murderers; laugh and giggle and dance and go about their daily lives.
I did enjoy how Anwar, one of the main focal persons of the movie, a past executioner, a monster mentions how he sometimes has nightmares while he sleeps. He believes it's because he would watch each one of them die. Anwar said he would drink, smoke marijuana, get high in trying to forget and so it shows you, he has a little bit of a conscience.
I think what is so shockingly brutal about this documentary is not only witnessing these mass murderers talking, but during the reenacting, watching little children actually crying. They scare the living crap out of them. They actually make these children believe they're going to be killed during the reenactment. You the viewer know that it’s fake, in what they’re doing, but these children are so frightened and lost in the moment.
During the reenactments especially the village scene, I can't help but think what the real people went through. The terror they had, right before they died. The shocking brutality that they went through, the suffering and pain witnessing their children killed, loved ones killed, it's truly a shockingly horrible moment and I can only think of it as true reality.
You almost want to scream and yell and hunt these bastards down as they still live. They are able to shop in the mall and go around their very neighborhoods and so on. They are Kings and Heroes and idols. There is no justification for what they did, no matter if they state, they were only following what they were told to do. There is a time in your life when you say no, even if it cost your own life. There are moments where the past gangsters are talking out what they did to innocent people. They shoved wood up the anus until they died, chopped off their heads, hung them, beat them to death, strangled them with wire, burned them alive on and on, smashed their head in, crushed their neck, tortured them, shot them, drowned them, raped them to death.
I don't know how anyone could live with themselves. I don't know how anyone that takes another human being's life can live with themselves. It's truly shocking to know that there are people in this world, especially these few in this documentary can live their lives with their wife's and children and go about their daily routine knowing they were part of a genocide. Knowing they murdered millions. I truly cannot fathom how they can exist, for they are heartless, they are true monsters and they are shockingly truthful in what they did. To them it's like telling a story, but to us the viewer, it's the very gates of hell.
The moment when Anwar witnesses the torture, where he is acting the part as one of the victims. Where he brings his grandchildren in and then they leave. When he watches the screen. I do believe in all honesty, 100% he realizes what he did and the horror he caused. The next shot of him visiting the killing room is possibly one of the most emotionally charged, tense moments I have ever seen filmed. The moment weighs heavy on him as he starts gagging, wrenching, spitting, and crying. The moment he realizes the truth. And even at that time that he grasped the evil, the horror, of what he did, he still tries to justify saying, he had no choice, you always ultimately have a choice. Just because someone was German didn't mean they had to join the Nazi party. Just because you’re an American military officer doesn't mean you have to join in on the torture of innocent individuals in Guantánamo Bay. You don't have to become a terrorist just because your family is.
You have a historical crime setting and a truly disturbing picture splashed with the likes of a biography and a twist of fictional images told through the likes of the murderers themselves. The whole film is a great watch, it comes together as a truly stand out film that has so much, for it is a true one of a kind achievement. I feel the back story of this mass murder and the reality that these killers are treated like idols and walk freely and knowing they murdered is a true horror movie. Simply put this documentary has now become part of history. The reality is a masterpiece that creates its own little world. The deep appeal in the real murderers is something few films has ever captured or even begin to create.
A great film with a haunting true story and characters you will never forget. Truly a must see film for anyone who loves, brilliant filmmaking, thought provoking subject matter, history and documentary.