The Final Scene of The Act of Killing: Did the Filmmaker Go Far Enough in Confronting Congo?
Cecil B. DeMille’s Samson and Delilah and The Ten Commandments. Movies were part of the deal from the beginning.
It appears that longstanding corruption has solidified into a core Indonesian principle, like democracy or capitalism. We see politicians make speeches proudly declaring that they are gangsters, careful to remind the crowd that the term "gangster" in their society only means "free man." A leading newspaper publisher brags about how he manufactured evidence against suspected Communists, providing long lists for the death squads. This is the smiliest atrocity documentary I've ever seen. Between camera setups on the historical film, Congo's neighbor Suryono shares a story about watching the death squads abduct his communist stepfather. Quick to reassure the gangsters that "I'm not criticizing what we're doing," he describes finding his stepfather's body under an oil barrel the next day. At 12 years of age, he had to help bury his stepdad in a roadside ditch. Moments after this recollection, Oppenheimer keeps the documentary camera focused on Suryono, whose cavalier facade is crumbling by the second. He seems to implode as Congo's friend Adi Zulkadry, a flinty veteran executioner who reminds me of Ray Winstone, browbeats the others about sugarcoating their crimes: "Everything Anwar and I have always said is false. It's not the communists who were cruel. I'm absolutely aware that we were cruel."
Because the history of 1965 in Indonesia, so far, promises us none of these things.