Film Review: The Act Of Killing


Title: The Act Of Killing (Jagal)
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Language: Indonesian (English Subtitles)

Synopsis (taken from
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.

Today, Anwar is revered as a founding father of a right-wing paramilitary organization that grew out of the death squads. The organization is so powerful that its leaders include government ministers, and they are happy to boast about everything from corruption and election rigging to acts of genocide.

The Act of Killing is about killers who have won, and the sort of society they have built. Unlike ageing Nazis or Rwandan génocidaires, Anwar and his friends have not been forced by history to admit they participated in crimes against humanity. Instead, they have written their own triumphant history, becoming role models for millions of young paramilitaries. The Act of Killing is a journey into the memories and imaginations of the perpetrators, offering insight into the minds of mass killers. And TheAct oKilling is a nightmarish vision of a frighteningly banal culture of impunity in which killers can joke about crimes against humanity on television chat shows, and celebrate moral disaster with the ease and grace of a soft shoe dance number.

If I was not ill when I watch this film, I would have enjoyed it more. However, this is one hell of a documentary film. Oh yes, this is a documentary film and probably would not suit children under 18 years old for so many violence and explicit sexual dialogue (although it is categorised under 15 and above). Basically the content of the documentary film is not suitable for kids.

This surely is a really interesting film. Not only because I have a personal emotional bond with the topic itself, but also because of the way it was presented in a 2 hours 40 minutes of “what the fuck”. In a good way. It gave the audience the real insight of the perpetrator of the massacre happened in Indonesia ages ago.

The concept, I have to admit, a little bit surreal. It is hard to explain without spilling the beans. If you don’t like documentary film you might find it boring. Unlike the usual fiction films, this does not have the regular plot. It could be confusing as hell if you don’t have the initial understanding of the political situation in Indonesia now and then.

Would I recommend this to other people? Definitely.

Although I don’t think one can easily access this film from Indonesia, but I believe this worth to be downloaded somewhere. This would give the cringing enlightenment to the people who did not know how the history could be reversed. Even I believed this should be given in school to educate the young people to be open minded.

Yes I would recommend this film to everybody. If you find it boring in the beginning, wait a bit longer until you can grasp the essence of why this film was made. That would worth it.


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