Multiple Acts of Killing

Author: Adam Tyson | University of Leeds


The Act of Killing (TAOK) is a fascinating episodic film that documents the personal consequences of self-confessed executioner Anwar Congo's attempt to tell the tale of his murderous exploits in the 1960s. Ini lah kita! (This is who we are!). Anwar celebrates his innovative killing techniques in the opening scenes of TAOK, before gradually falling into despair. One man's nightmare helps bring to the fore wider social and political conflicts in Indonesia today, making this a unique cinematic achievement. There are limitations and flaws, however, and I agree with Jess Melvin that we should look beyond the film itself, asking "in what sort of society is boasting about participating in crimes against humanity something that is considered to be tolerable and even status enhancing?" While there is no straightforward answer to this question, the seventy-page liputan khusus (special report) published by Tempo magazine in fall 2012 is a useful starting point, filling in some of the historical gaps in Oppenheimer's and Misplaced Expectations

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