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The Act of Killing (2013)

The Act of Killing
Review by: Jarrett Leahy

Former Indonesian death squad leaders use various cinema genres to reenact the horrific mass killings they perpetrated on thousands of people during the mid-to-late 1960’s.  How about that for a synopsis?  Trying to come up with a grade for The Act of Killing was difficult. Some called it the most important film of 2013, giving it an A+ and sticking it at the top of end of year lists. I’m not so sure. This film is the type of documentary that requires the viewer to stand back and see the historical importance of what the filmmakers were able to capture on camera for future generations regardless of the personal repugnance that might arise from what is being discussed and recreated.  I will never watch The Act of Killing again. This documentary joins the list of films that I can say were impressive for what they brought to the screen, but were in no way enjoyable to watch. The Act of Killing depicts evil men who did evil things and are now, almost 50 years later, giving nonchalant justifications for their evil deeds. This is the type of film that should lead to outcry, justice, and change, and only time can truly be the judge as to its importance. But based on the current “government” system of Indonesia that is depicted in this film, I honestly don’t foresee any positive change coming out of this horrifying film.  And if that is truly the case, than what good was it really except to show that pure evil still exists and walks among us-JL

Grade: B

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