Movie: The Act of Killing

January 22, 2014 § 2 Comments

I’ve struggled for a couple of years now, on whether or not I should be posting anything unrelated to reading and books on this blog. For a while, it was only about the books I read. Then, it was about the books, and other literary stuff I came across. Later, I started to include the books that came to my possession.

But I just mostly stayed away from anything that didn’t have anything to do with reading.

I think this year is going to be different. Or I should say, it’s going to be different from this post forward.

Perhaps it’s because of my recent work experience which brought me very close to the heart of movie production. I’ve had the privilege of being involved in a few (as part of the crew, of course!), and I must say that it has changed my experience of movies considerably.

My first love is, and, I suspect, always will be, reading and books. But as far as story-telling goes, movies are a very close second.

*****

The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing is a 2012 documentary about a part of Indonesian history (1965-66 killings) that I never knew about. Being such a close neighbour, it’s discomforting to find out that I know so little about what goes on just beyond the straits.

At the same time, I also feel that it’s precisely because we’re such close neighbours, that we don’t know about things like this. In fact, there’s an eerie similarity, some kind of parallel that I was able to draw from watching this documentary, to my own country. While Malaysia’s not as outright “violent”, we have our own share of problems, which also deeply plague Indonesia.

The documentary itself isn’t violent. But the emotions are very much so. What really drew me to watch this documentary (it’s available online, HERE) is not so much that it was nominated for an Oscar, but because the many people involved in the production of this documentary chose to remain anonymous to protect themselves from harm.

As I mentioned, I’ve worked on movie sets before. And believe me, we all want to be acknowledged for the work we do. So for the Indonesian crew to want to remain anonymous tells me one thing: the content is so “sensitive” in their country that they simply cannot afford to be acknowledged.

I suspect that most of the time, Joshua Oppenheimer (the director) was the person who was speaking to the subjects from behind the camera, prompting their answers. And I must say, he’s got a very good grasp of the Indonesian language, which is impressive.

The documentary itself was shot in a rather interesting way. Or should I say, the story-telling was interesting. It was different, not quite the same with other documentaries.

If you have slightly more than a couple of hours to spare, watch this.

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§ 2 Responses to Movie: The Act of Killing

  • thycriticman says:

    I have not completed my viewing of this film, but I must say it is done very well. It is shocking that some of these men feel no guilt whatsoever for their actions.

  • mee says:

    I just watched this recently as well, and told people to watch it. Not only Malaysians, even lots of Indonesians don’t know much about the truth that is in the movie, or prefer not to know. It is nominated for Best Documentary for Bafta and Oscar, and I’m glad to see it acknowledged. The number of crews who opted to go anonymous surprised me as well, probably the most I’ve seen so far in any film.
    ps: Wondering what’s your new “movie related” job is? Glad you’re doing well! 🙂

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