One of the most audacious documentaries ever made, this mind-boggling film forces us to examine our opinions about human history far beyond the events covered on-screen. Filmmaker Oppenheimer and his crew attempt something seriously ingenious, coaxing a group of killers to re-enact their atrocities in ways that are deeply disturbing and eerily, blackly funny.
The historical event in question is Indonesia's 1965 coup, after which an estimated 1 million people were murdered in an effort to stomp out communism. But this is the government that's still in power today, so a bitter anti-communist attitude prevails, and the killers are treated as national heroes. Oppenheimer interviews these death-squad members, asking them to make a movie depicting the year-long extermination. Since they have never been charged with a crime, they feel no guilt or remorse about their actions. And what Oppenheimer does so cleverly is force them to think about what it would be like to be in their victims' shoes.
It's profoundly fascinating to watch these men who have tried to cover their memories through alcohol over the years. And as they re-stage their hideous attacks on women and children to make a film, they begin to see that this might be making them look bad. Intriguingly, they recreate their actions in the style of their favourite genre: gangster movies. (They gloat that their film will be more sadistic than a Nazi movie.) Indeed, these men are gangsters who actually hated communism because it threatened their criminal businesses.
Watching this film is a heart-stopping experience, as the irony is completely lost on these men. And they're seriously colourful characters, especially Koto, who loves to drag-up to play the grand dame. Their constant joking gives the film an even more unnerving undertone, as they detail the horrors of their pasts and then begin to think about what they've done. It's not as if they feel any actual regret, but when they start to worry that their re-enaction of a mass slaughter might look worst than it actually was, we can see in their eyes that they know the reverse is true. Essential viewing.
Run time: 115 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 8th November 2012
Box Office USA: $0.5M
Box Office Worldwide: $444.6 thousand
Budget: $1000 thousand
Distributed by: Drafthouse Films
Production compaines: Spring Films, Final Cut for Real, Piraya Film A/S, Novaya Zemlya
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 95%
Fresh: 126 Rotten: 6
IMDB: 8.2 / 10
Director: Joshua Oppenheimer
Producer: Signe Byrge Sorensen
Starring: Anwar Congo as Himself, Herman Koto as Himself, Syamsul Arifin as Himself, Ibrahim Sinik as Himself, Yapto Soerjosoemarno as Himself, Safit Pardede as Himself, Jusuf Kalla as Himself, Adi Zulkadry as Himself, Haji Anif as Himself, Sakhyan Asmara as Himself
Like an antidote to vacuous blockbusters, this intelligent, thoughtful drama packs more intensity into a...
This biopic gallops through the career of groundbreaking gangsta rappers N.W.A, working its way through...
Basically the perfect summer movie, this lightweight drama has a great-looking cast and plenty of...
As the ghoul from the 2012 horror hit stalks a new family, this sequel's sharply...
After setting the scene with vivid characters and some insightful interaction, the plot of this...
Both the characters and the tone have been updated as a new generation of Grizwolds...
Amy Schumer makes her big screen debut with a script that feels like a much-extended...
Adopting a deliciously groovy vibe, Guy Ritchie turns the iconic 1960s TV spy series into...