This award-winning documentary blends realty and fantasy as a film crew propositions a group of former Indonesian death squad leaders to recreate their shocking mass killings in lavish, opulent detail.
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"God hates communists. That's why he's made this film so beautiful." OK, I guess that explains why they are so proud of killing. But can someone please explain to me the meaning of dancing in the mouth of the giant fish?
"I did this to so many people, Josh. Is it all coming back to me?" Oppenheimer's jawdropping film raises such complex questions about evil, guilt, culpability, empathy, voyeurism, remorse, humanity, war, PTSD, groupthink, ego, morality, free will, psychology, psychopathy, sociology, tribalism, nationalism - and even documentary film making itself - that it's almost impossible to take it all in after a single viewing.
Less a documentary about the Indonesian genocide than a fascinating meditation on social psychology. The focus on a few individuals seemed mostly to highlight the more root/structural issue of cultures of impunity. With chilling implications, since none of us are exempt from those... (see e.g. U.S. refusal to admit backing said genocide). Innovative structure & gorgeous colour. Director's cut dragged on too long. 3.5
The film discovers a modality by necessity, as there was not previously one that was adequate. Conceptually it is so obviously a triumph of vision that a good deal of work would have been necessary to skunk the project. Its world is like something out of a hallucination. It is history (and reckoning) as agonizing psychodrama. Its murky moral terrain boggles any kind of reading. We do not have the tools to read this.
Everything I say or write about this film will be incomplete. For years, I suspect. I haven't digested it, yet. Maybe I never will. Like a portuguese jewish comentator said about Hitler, in a debate about the 2004 Downfall film, the horror is that he (Hitler) was not a monster, he was a normal person, like you and me. Normal people do monstrous things. And if a society makes killing normal everything turns insane.
A spellbinding and truly horrifying documentary from Oppenheimer and Cynn revisiting the mass killings of supposed Communists in sixties and seventies Indonesia through the eyes of mainlyone of the paid executioners. The director's vision is to recreate these scenes of murder and torture sometimes in quite cinematic tableau which only sees the lack of remorse of the participants shine more brightly. Fascinating.
"War crimes are dictated by the winners". It's a line that should be retched instead of spoken aloud, but that's only because it is horrifyingly, begrudgingly true! It's as if the nazis had won the war and they are STILL parading around and celebrating the holocaust with impunity - and YES, maybe *these* men do gag on the occasional karmic furball during their lonelier hours, but...they are still dancing w/ impunity.
I don't know of a film that better explores who we've become as a global culture raised in a brutal media crossfire. This bizarre microcosm is a gangster's paradise where thugs rule and unabashedly accept a twisted version of fame via rape and pillage. An intense, visceral portrait of human's most complicated asset: the ability to ignore, suppress and justify. Easily one of the most important films I've ever seen.