The Banality of Evil in THE ACT OF KILLING
Earlier this week we shared a clip from Drafthouse Films latest release The Act Of Killing – a chilling and inventive documentary examing a country where death squad leaders are celebrated as heroes. Rather than constructing a traditional historical piece, director Joshua Oppenheimer along with his co-directors Christine Cynn and "Anonymous," challenged these former executioners to reenact their killings from almost 50 years ago in the style of the American movies they love. The result is a cinematic fever dream, delving deep into the imagination of murderers and reconnecting them with their shocking past. Errol Morris, who serves as the film's Executive Producer along with Werner Herzog, identifies one of the main questions emerging from Oppenheimer's film in his near-7000 word essay on the film: "Is it possible to kill 1 million people and then forget about it? Or if it has been erased from consciousness, is there an unconscious residue, a stain that remains?"
Jordan Hoffman wrote when he reviewed the film for BAD after its World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, "the phrase 'the banality of evil' has never been more applicable than in The Act of Killing." One sequence that is particular fitting (above clip) features the film's central subject Anwar Congo, a real-life death squad leader during the Indonesian mass-execution in 1965-66, as he prepares to star in cinematic recreations of his atrocities. Congo revisits old photographs for costume inspirations and speaks with a chilling frankness about how its best to wear thick pants when executing.
During one of the film's musical sequences staged by Congo features himself with costumed dancers in front of waterfall singing "Born Free." The man representing one of Congo's deceased victims appears to reward him with a medal for "sending him to heaven." Watch the film's trailer for the full scope of Congo's elaborate cinematic vision of his past.
The Act Of Killing opens this Friday in NYC at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema. Director Joshua Oppenheimer will be present for Q&As on Friday at the 7:30pm showing and on Saturday for the 4:50pm & 7:30pm showings. Tickets are available here. For a full listing of theaters and cities opening the film, please visit www.actofkilling.com.