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:

When killers win, when killers become heroes. 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: What I regret... Honestly, I never expected it would look this awful. My friends kept telling me to act more sadistic, but then I saw the women and children. Imagine those children's future. They've been tortured. Now their houses will be burned down. What future do they have? They will curse us for the rest of their lives. This was so very, very, very...
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

Featured in The 2014 Film Independent Spirit Awards (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Born Free
Composer: John Barry
Lyrics: Don Black
Courtesy of Sony/ATV Tunes LLC
Sony/ATV Music Publishing Scandinavia
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unlike anything you have ever seen..
27 September 2013 | by crownofspratsSee all my reviews

..and I am assuming you've seen a lot here.

It's telling that Errol Morris, the man who can sniff truth out from behind the image like it's a prized truffle, was left confounded after watching this.

This is not an easy movie to watch. Some people may find the subject matter overwhelming. Some may be troubled by the obvious "what if they won?" comparison with the Nazis. Two and a half million people died at the hands of the death squads the men you will be watching on screen belonged to. They razed entire villages, raped and tortured, committed ethnic cleansing (the "crush the Chinese" campaign is remembered fondly while the protagonists drive around town in their old gangster car). Now they get to make cinematic re-enactments of their days torturing and killing communists, which range from absolutely bizarre to harrowing (yet still bizarre, once full awareness of the context seeps in). The nation encourages their efforts!

(In itself, allowing the protagonists of a documentary to make their own movie about the subject of the documentary is kind of a weird gambit on any project, but downright insane when the protagonists happen to be government-sanctioned mass murderers. This took serious courage - which is why half the names are "anonymous".)

But this history - and more importantly, its effect on contemporary Indonesian society (the talk show segment is especially chilling) - are only the potent brew that affords us a window into such depths of the human soul. Here, the handful of subjects - the gangster murderers and national heroes - do most of the storytelling and provide unforgettable imagery, although they are shepherded along on this deranged journey by the deft hand of the filmmaker, who also does a masterful job of presenting this material to the audience. This is also the ultimate film within a film, because it essentially lights the fire under the brew, which activates its potency and makes it go to its protagonists' heads. Then the portal for us is open.

Did I mention that much of the film has the potential to elicit laughter? However, as it nears its conclusion, it will stupefy and seize even the most cynical, disconnected viewer into silence (provided they read the subtitles).

So yeah, easily one of the most important documentaries to come out this decade, if not this century.


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