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The Act of Killing (2012)

8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 14,245 users   Metascore: 89/100
Reviews: 84 user | 224 critic | 30 from Metacritic.com

A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 46 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Himself - Executioner in 1965
Herman Koto ...
Himself - Gangster and Paramilitary Leader
Syamsul Arifin ...
Himself - Governor of North Sumatra
Ibrahim Sinik ...
Himself - Newspaper Publisher
Yapto Soerjosoemarno ...
Himself - Leader of Pancasila Youth
Safit Pardede ...
Himself - Local Paramilitary Leader
Jusuf Kalla ...
Himself - Vice President of Indonesia
Adi Zulkadry ...
Himself - Fellow Executioner in 1965
Soaduon Siregar ...
Himself - Journalist
Suryono ...
Himself - Anwar's Neighbor
Haji Marzuki ...
Himself - Member of North Sumatra Parliament (as Marzuki)
Haji Anif ...
Himself - Paramilitary Leader and Businessman
Rahmat Shah ...
Himself - Member of Parliament
Sakhyan Asmara ...
Himself - Deputy Minister of Youth and Sport
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Storyline

A documentary which challenges former Indonesian death-squad leaders to reenact their mass-killings in whichever cinematic genres they wish, including classic Hollywood crime scenarios and lavish musical numbers.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A story of killers who win, and the society they build


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

| |

Language:

|

Release Date:

8 November 2012 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Az ölés aktusa  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$27,450 (USA) (19 July 2013)

Gross:

$484,221 (USA) (28 February 2014)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (extended) | (TV) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The co-director, as well as 48 other members of the film crew in 27 different positions, are credited as 'Anonymous' because they still fear revenge from the death-squad killers. The 41-year-old Indonesian who shared directing credit with Joshua Oppenheimer and Christine Cynn, could only wonder, 'How could these people tell these horrible stories so lightly and so proudly? You just want to challenge them right away. But you have to keep telling yourself to be patient, to let them tell the story the way they like. Because then we can learn something about the whole system of destruction.' See more »

Quotes

Anwar Congo: Why did I have to kill them? I had to kill... My conscience told me they had to be killed.
See more »

Connections

References Born Free (1966) See more »

Soundtracks

Bunga Seroja
Composer: Husein Bawafie
Courtesy of Ridho Bawafie
See more »

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User Reviews

 
It's like a country where the SS actually won.
22 January 2014 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

While I recommend you see "The Act of Killing", the context for the film is missing. I think the filmmakers felt that it wasn't necessary but I am pretty sure younger audiences will feel a bit confused by what has happened. So, the retired history teacher in me will briefly give an overview that I wish had come when the film began: President Sukarno was the first president of Indonesia He was a strong nationalist who worked to gain independence from the Dutch. As the years passed, his administration forged closer and closer alliances with the left--particularly the communists. However, when Suharto deposed Sukarno in a coup, he ushered in an era of fascist-like repression. Suddenly, murder squads sprung up throughout the country and communists and the Chinese minority were targeted for extermination. During this period (mostly from 1965-7), approximately a million people were murdered--often very brutally.

Now, decades later, filmmakers have come to Indonesia to interview folks who were responsible for some of these murders. And, surprisingly, they find that not only are these folks rather unrepentant, but that the culture of murdering the opposition still thrives. For example, Pancasila Youth is a paramilitary organization much like the Nazi SS and SA. They were the folks behind the murders and today STILL are several million member strong--and they are proud of this. What's worse, the government is strongly aligned with them and the film shows the nation's Vice President talking to them and giving his assent for their violence. While the filmmakers did not get interviews with these higher ups, they did get others responsible for the murders to be interviewed and even recreate the killings for the audience! Oddly, they seemed very cooperative and smiled throughout--as if they were very proud of being mass murderers.

As far as the film goes, it is an amazing portrait of evil--especially since many of these folks look very ordinary. Monsters can have families, friends and even be pillars of society...but they are monsters. This is the great message of the film. And, because of this it is invaluable and worthy of receiving the Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature. It is worth seeing.

While I strongly recommend the film as it is brave and outstanding in what it achieved, it also is overlong. And, sadly, while the film shows evil up close, after a while it all becomes rather boring. Shortening it a bit here and there would have made it more poignant. Still, it is a must-see film. With a slight editing, I would have scored this film a 10.


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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anyone else hate the subtitles? SandersOnPPW
I'm Indonesian and I find this disturbing wuhugm
Oh, how we love to point fingers. . . to other murderers but ourselves. wzard999
Criminal that it didnt win an oscar magicninga
Where is the American involvement in this? celestemekent
What messages did you take away from this film? TheViewfromNowhere
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