'For massacres, I usually wore jeans. For massacres, pants should be thick," observes Anwar Congo, the central figure in Joshua Oppenheimer's documentary, The Act of Killing.
In addition to addressing the wholesale, indiscriminate slaughter of "communists" _ basically anyone accused of opposing the military dictatorship _ in Indonesia between 1965 and 1966, Oppenheimer's film explores the psychology of a nation where a norm has been created from terror. It is a film about making a film about killing, a film about the representation of history, how history is remembered and how reality is "created" through the act of remembering.
The Act of Killing opens with a brief but broad statement providing background information on the conflict in Indonesia, before following Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, Adi Zulkadry and several other gangsters who were involved in the extermination of alleged "communists" during that period as they make a film re-enacting their deeds. This re-enactment, Oppenheimer believed, would reconnect them to the past.
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