Ann Arbor Weather:
Sunday September 23, 2018
Follow us: facebook twitter RSS feed
Print Comment E-mail

The Act of Killing

 

continued

into a massacre fueled by communal hatreds. The best estimates of the carnage hold that between 500,000 and a million Indonesians were killed, but the entire subject remains a sensitive one in Indonesia, and no systematic accounting of what took place has ever been carried out.

Enter Joshua Oppenheimer, an American documentary filmmaker based in Denmark. A fluent Indonesian speaker who had come to southeast Asia to investigate the effects of globalization, he began to interview those responsible for the killings and found many of them proud of their roles because they believed they had stopped Communism in Indonesia. The killers from that time--small-time thugs, essentially--agreed to reenact the murders for Oppenheimer, who has said that his method "was not an elaborate lure to get them to open up. The method was a response to their openness." He told them that he would film whatever they wanted to present.

So far, the banality of evil. But then it gets surreal. The film focuses mostly on a death squad leader in Sumatra named Anwar Congo, who recalled that the original killers imitated murder scenes from American films--and in fact were annoyed in the beginning that the previous left-leaning government had discouraged American film imports. Congo sets himself up as a director of the reenactment, casting the killings as gangster film scenes. His favorite method was to strangle a victim with a wire. Congo throws in Western sequences and even a song-and-dance routine in the countryside. The violence of American culture hangs over the scenes like a bad dream--and the extent to which the CIA was involved in the killings remains under debate.

Bookmark and Share
previous  ·  1 l 2 l 3  ·  next page
all on one page
read more stories here -> Marketplace  l  Culture  l  Community  l  News

You might also like:

Photo: Survey the Field
Saving the Cunningham Tract
The gravel mine deal is finally official.
Margaret Engle
Crime Map
A clickable, zoomable map
Coach Mac
On a baseball field at King School, he changed a kid's life.
John U. Bacon
Earth Elements
A mind, body, spirit story for Saline
Billie Ochberg
Potholes and Potshots
The city's cratered streets have become a political battleground.
James Leonard
Bicycle Injuries
"Bikes and autos haven't made peace yet," says Kurt Kralovich.
James Leonard
From Pizza to Fresh Forage
Fast-casual farm-to-table
Sabine Bickford
Paint "Happy"
The late Bob Ross is having a retro-cool moment.
Eve Silberman
Restaurants with Diapering Facilities
A clickable zoomable map
Buy tickets to local events at a2tix.com
A visitor's guide to Ann Arbor