Thursday, February 13, 2014

Exorcising the Demons: The Act of Killing

The Act of Killing

This is what an exorcism really looks like. Adults who try to teach children that they should think about consequences and consider they might have regret, use their words as examples of what it feels like. This documentary shows, really shows, what regret looks like. The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014) is a documentary that follows former Indonesian death squad leaders as they reenact their war crimes, the murders they committed. They reenact precisely how they captured, interrogated, and garroted their victims, the “communists”. This is THE most disturbing film I think I have ever seen; this is the BEST teaching tool I’ve ever seen for youth in terms of attitude and regret.

In this film we have the self-proclaimed “gangsters”, proud of being such and sanctioned by a huge para-military faction established by the coup rulers and still in existence today, the Pancasila Youth. The gangsters identify themselves as heroes, characterized and supported by the cinematic images of American films of their youth. They are given an opportunity to tell their story through any medium they wish and they choose to make a film. They expect to become famous; they already are famous and revered in their home land. This film shows the thought processes of mass murderers in reflection, from arrogance and self-aggrandizement to (for some but not all) pensive and remorseful…almost.

The synopsis on the film's web site could not sum it up better, however the potential for this film in middle and high school classes is unspoken and evident to me. This film has purpose. At a developmental stage where children appropriately depend on their peers, they do not have the experience of regret to teach each other and are destined to have regrets, some potentially deafening, unless they “get it”. This film can help students “get” the impact of decision making to the “nth” degree, and demonstrates the process of self-justification, and the consequences both globally and personally of harming others in both minor and life-determining ways. Fortunately, for those who “get it”, this film also demonstrates that one can exorcise their demons and survive. Whether the students are children or adults, this last benefit is the most crucial, and necessary lesson of this film.

 Because we are “merely” human beings, we go through life with menial and self-centered purpose. This film has the potential to elevate our thinking, and our behavior, outside our selves. This film shows the cultural values of people, the influences that create those values, and so important to the "western" citizens, the consequences of those values and the attainment of the materials that represent the values; the things we hold to represent our status….the symbols that say “I made it!” This film is about the consequences of greed; it is the justification for being inhuman and inhumane.

Photo: TheGermansMakeGoodStuff Quote: George Orwell, Animal Farm
This is THE most disturbing film I can remember ever seeing (other than The Exorcist.) This is the most important film I’ve seen. This film is not as romantic as our idea of an exorcism might actually look like, but it is the only real exorcism I’ve seen portrayed. You must watch through to “get it”, but like any good film the cliff hanger at the end leaves you wanting more, and in this case wondering “Did he really get it?”, and hoping he does, and hoping I will get it too, when I exercise my own demons.


  1. Mona -- there was a movie, a horror movie, called, "Trauma," where the psychopath garrots his victims with a motorized device that beheads its victims. The film actually traumatized me, so I stopped watching it, but it was WORSE than this non-fiction film.

    I was upset for days by this film because I know the CIA was involved in training these monsters, just as they were in Central and South America. And these monsters learned everything they needed to learn about how to distress, traumatize, program and split the personalities of people, generally children, from the Nazi's.

    And these post-Reaganite apologists for the current psychopathy wonder why I sound hysterical to them when I confront them with their idiotic defense of capitalism, libertarianism, Ayn Rand and god knows what else they come up with to rationalize and justify why ObamaCare is evil, why socialism and communism are evil, etc.

    The Bush Family has done enormous damage to this world and they've used Texas and Florida as bases of operations for their nonsense.

  2. Thanks for reading AND commenting on my blog Anonymous (MK?) I really appreciate that you are self aware and share your experiences. I was so confused in the beginning of this movie because they kept talking about the necessity of killing the communists (a hatred we have been taught to adopt in our own country) yet they were clearly very bad people wanting to do very bad things in the name of "patriotism"! When I was a kid I saw movies that effected me, but as an adult can see that I was frightened by something that was imaginary. As an adult I see the motive for fear IS that this REALLY happened and these people really believe the things they do....or do they?! After I watched the movie and wrote the post I watched the clip I posted at the top, and I agree with everything the reviewers said. Both the film and the clip in this post are a MUST see.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my thoughts!