The Act of Killing

Video clips are automatically supplied by broadcasters and distributors. is not responsible for the clip's contents.
The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer (2) (2012)

15 Certificate


Our Score
The very nature of the documentary is called into question by this ground-breaking film about the aftermath of an attempted military coup in Indonesia in 1965. Thousands of perceived "communist" traitors were slaughtered (men, women and children), yet the perpetrators never faced justice. To get to the heart of this spine-chilling story, director Joshua Oppenheimer hides in plain sight, asking some of the most notorious hired assassins - who proudly style themselves as "gangsters" - to re-enact scenes from their past, in the style of a Hollywood movie. They seem oblivious to the idea that portraying real-life atrocities in this way is in gruesomely bad taste, showing quite candidly how apparently rational men can delude themselves. Most frightening of all is the avuncular Anwar Congo, who would be a thoroughly likeable old man except that he was once a feared, bloodthirsty executioner. It's a long and uncomfortable journey, but The Act of Killing is also fascinating, using film as a hall of mirrors to reveal not just the faces, but the twisted souls, of murderers.


Director Joshua Oppenheimer spent seven years with former members of Indonesian death squads to try to understand why they killed, and why they remain so proud of their actions many years later. He challenges them to re-enact some of their many killings in the style of the cinematic genres they love, with the men playing themselves and their victims. In Indonesian and English.

Cast & Crew

Director Joshua Oppenheimer (2)
Co-Director Christine Cynn
Co-Director Anonymous

Other Information

Language: Indonesian, English +subtitlesColourTheatrical distributor: DogwoofAvailable on: DVD and Blu-rayReleased on: 28 Jun 2013