8.2/10
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112 user 256 critic

The Act of Killing (2012)

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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.

Directors:

Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous (co-director) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 53 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

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

"Unprecedented in the history of cinema" - Werner Herzog See more »

Genres:

Documentary | Crime

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

UK | Denmark | Norway

Language:

Indonesian | English

Release Date:

8 November 2012 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

Actul de a ucide See more »

Filming Locations:

Medan, Indonesia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$27,450, 21 July 2013, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$486,919

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$722,274
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An audience member after a screening in Berlin said that what director Joshua Oppenheimer had done was "like having SS officers re-enact the Holocaust." Oppenheimer responded that it is not the same at all 'because 'the Nazis are no longer in power', while the death squad members shown in the documentary are still being protected by the Indonesian government. See more »

Quotes

Anwar Congo: It's a good family movie; plenty of humor; a great story; Wonderful scenery. It really show what's special about our country even though it's a film about death.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The name "Anonymous" appears 49 times under 27 different crew positions in the credits. This was done to protect the identities of those crew members who feared retribution from the former Indonesian death squad leaders. See more »

Alternate Versions

The 159-min version is the director's cut. It is the only version being released in Indonesia, and was released alongside the 115-min version in Danish cinemas. Compared to the shorter version, the 159-minute version reveals more of the filmmaking method and also explores the role of propaganda cinema in maintaining anti-communist fervor. The fiction scenes take over the film's form to the extent that ultimately the boundaries between fiction and documentary blur. In the final act, Anwar's descent in the long version is longer and more complex. See more »

Connections

References World Trade Center (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Burung Kakatua
Composer: Unknown
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User Reviews

 
It's like a country where the SS actually won.
22 January 2014 | by MartinHaferSee 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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