Monday, August 27, 2018

1053. The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing
Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer

How do you even begin to review a documentary like this? I don't know if I have ever seen anything so perverse committed to film and I really hope I never will again.

Basically, the director asked former death squad leaders to reenact the mass killings they perpetrated in whatever manner they want. They do this in the style of Hollywood gangster movies, musical numbers, and one bizarre scene that looked like an outtake of Flaming Creatures. The film is intercut with some interviews and other footage of Anwar Congo his life.

What a surreal experience, watching these men together. They discussed their killings like they were old friends from high school, reliving their glory days as football stars. They argued over whether one looked good in red or not. Like most people watching, I spent the whole viewing time searching for signs of remorse and never really got any.  There were glimpses, here and there, but were they genuine? It's hard to say. But it's a noble goal to humanize killers. Not for their sake, but for ours. We need to know how easy it is to justify violence and slip into the roles of monsters.

Anyway, that was very upsetting and I have to go talk to some ice cream about this.

RATING: Seems pretty inappropriate in this case. Let's just say it's worth seeing.

Interesting Facts:

49 members of the crew were credited as anonymous, as they feared revenge from death squad killers.


  1. A decidedly strange concept for a film.. So odd, that, at times, I started to to wonder if it was all genuine.. But a little checking showed no real challenge to it's credentials, so I am happy to accept that it is what it states.
    Which is quite scary.
    That these guys think it's quite OK to go on international cinema screens to say 'hey look what I did, isn't it great?'
    Look, I've seen documentaries which include, say, WWII, talking heads from anyone from formed SS officers to Curtis le May talking about the things they did in the name of their country at war. Their attitude varied from 'Hey, we were at war, we had to do what we had to do to prevail' to extreme guilt and regret via just blank faced retelling for the historic record. (I'm thinking of such things as 'Sorrow and the pity' and the BBC World at war' series from the 60's)
    But I've never seen anyone put, say, 'Bomber' Harris or Le May in a plane over Dresden jabbering away excitedly about 'hey, wow, like this is great, just like that night we flattened this place'

    I've also seen the companion piece / follow up, 'Look of Silence' (2014) which was equally shocking.

    Please excuse me.. I've suddenly realised I'm late for 'work'.. I may be back.
    Talking of being 'back', I guess you are back in the US?

    1. Yes. Although I smuggled as many custard creams as I could fit in my luggage. I don't know if I could stomach the companion piece right now. I need some time to recover.

  2. Well, I got some custard creams, and digestives in, just on the vague chance you may drop by...