Impressions of … The Act of Killing [Joshua Oppenheimer]

extraordinary, where did he get the idea? Inviting former members of Indonesian death squads to make a film re-enacting their killings. This is a documentary I’d like to know more about: I guess the filmmaker, Joshua Oppenheimer, was already acquainted with his protagonist – … he seems to have his trust even friendship (and he’s fluent in Indonesian)


this film within a film is an enormity, not least because the tone is nostalgic: an excuse for reminiscences and reunions: those were the days, eh, when street gangsters (“free men”) became paramilitaries and could round up suspected communists, torture and kill them (a kind of garotte was our protagonist’s personal favourite) – this was a good thing, he explains, because the communists wanted to take away his freedom to tout cinema tickets for Hollywood movies; most of the documentary follows … as he develops his idea for the film, the enterprise lulls him into a false sense of security (of importance?), he opens up to ‘Joshua’, and we get far more insight and access than we might have done

but the revelation, the genius of the documentary is the effect the re-enactments have on the protagonist, this is something I should leave as a surprise

I would like to note how reassuring this conclusion is, an affirmation of a moral universe, killing is bad for the soul, yet one man’s redemption does not bring back the hundreds, the thousands massacred in Indonesia during that period, nor does it prevent similar atrocities from occurring in the future



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