There are only a handful of documentaries that are powerful enough to stick with a person for the rest of his or her life, and The Act Of Killing documentary is undoubtedly one of them. It is one of the most disturbing looks into the human psyche ever captured on film and it features some of the most ruthless and unapologetic murderers. The subjects of this film were complicit in the Indonesian massacres of 1965 - a genocide of epic proportions.
The Act Of Killing contains some of the worst moments of any documentary. And it goes way beyond interviews, as filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer offers the killers an opportunity to make a movie of their very own. Complete with costumes, makeup, and dance routines, the killers relive the massacre in true Hollywood fashion. From their perspective, they were heroes doing their duty, but this tale of Indonesia's death squads shows true darkness. The Act of Killing is a must watch for anyone who wants a glimpse of unadulterated evil.
The Entire Ordeal Was Almost Erased From History
Without this documentary, it is quite possible that few people in the western hemisphere would have ever heard about these brutal massacres. They had been largely overshadowed by events like the Vietnam war and the Civil Rights Movement. At the time, many Americans were happy to hear about the defeat of the "communists" in Indonesia. The crimes weren't really spoken of in Indonesia after the fact and a lot of people moved on like nothing ever happened.
Many Of The Killers Are Quite Proud Of Their Actions
While one might expect a murderer to show some regret in old age, that's not really the case in The Act Of Killing. While some of the killers may harbor some remorse, they don't tend to mention is. Many of the film's subjects boast about their actions, telling the murder stories with fondness. Most of these men had been treated like heroes for their actions, showered with praise and commendations from both the government and the public. Some people compare the situation to the holocaust if the Nazis had won the war.
The comparisons are far from inaccurate, as these men truly did get away with murder and live to be honored for it.
The Film Doesn't Shy Away From The Grisly Details
The filmmakers set out to show the world how killers think and they succeeded. Nothing is left out, not the gory details, nor the sadistic reenactments of the actual killings. Some of the slaughterers mention that they sang Elvis songs to themselves as they worked. They even give advice on how best to kill someone. One man in the documentary talks about his transition to strangulation instead of beating to avoid making a huge mess.
The Killers Were Inspired By Old American Gangster Films
The main subjects of the film were all members of the same death squad. Little more than a street gang, the men all shared a common love for cinema and brought that love into their murders. They were particularly fond of American gangster films and sought to emulate their aggressive idols. In the documentary, the men wear slick suits and smoke cigarettes, trying their best to look like Brando. John Wayne was their inspiration and they'd leave the theater to perform interrogations or executions without a care in the world.