The Act of Killing (2012)

The act of Killing

Movie Review

The Act of Killing is a documentary type of film that depicts former Indonesian death squad members reenacting their real life mass killings from the 1960’s. These older gangsters were encouraged to choose their own film genre in which to reenact these murders. The film was directed by Joshua Oppenheimer and Anonymous.  I found it very interesting that much of the rest of the crew was listed as Anonymous. The executive producers of the film were Werner Herzog and Errol Morris.

Act of Killing Fish

The resulting effect of the multiple genres chosen by the older gangsters was quite surreal and jarring. These gang members were common thugs who were influenced by American movies like Scarface and The Godfather. They imitated their movie heroes such as Al Pacino and Marlon Brando. The word “gangster” was said to be the Indonesian word for “free man.”

Act of kilking tiger

Many of the gangsters admitted the killings were wrong and some suffered from gruesome nightmares from the past killings. But some did not think what they did was wrong since they were never held accountable and were even praised for what they did and still receive praise to this day. They killed with impunity Chinese, communists, and whoever opposed the authoritarian regime of General Suharto. In one particularly chilling scene, a gang member describes destroying a village and raping its inhabitants, saying 14 year old girls were the best.

act of killing heads

A riveting and telling documentary some are calling a masterpiece is a must see film about events most people have either forgotten or have never heard about: the genocide of upwards of 1,000,000 people in Indonesia on the 1960’s.  This film is a grim reminder of the evil that lurks in men’s hearts and of the banality of evil that allows such horrific events to occur.

 

 

Squirrel Hunting

“The quality of mercy is not strained. It falls to the ground like the gentle rain.” – William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

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The best way to shoot a squirrel is with a camera. When I was a young man I used to hunt squirrels with a 12 gauge shotgun. Now that I have grown older and have been influenced by Buddhism I have lost my taste for killing.

Once, when I was a teenager visiting my grandfather’s farm in Kentucky, I was out early one morning  with the shotgun. As I came upon the grainery in the early morning mist I noticed a motion just to my right. A groundhog had just climbed a fence post and was sitting on top of it just as pretty as you please.

Well, I drew a bead on the varmint and slowly cocked back the hammer of the single action shotgun. I had him in my sights and I wrapped my finger around the trigger and took a deep breath as I prepared to pull the trigger. But something happened at that moment. I began to think about what a cute little feller he was and he was well known to the family and everyone would be unhappy if I shot the creature.

I looked down the barrel of the gun and in my minds eye I shot the groundhog but I could not bring myself to actually kill he beast.  I slowly applied the web of my right thumb to the cocked hammer of the gun and gently released it to the non-firing position. The ground hog ran off to live another day.

I had an epiphany that day. One might say a moment of clarity. And I learned a valuable lesson that day about the use and abuse of power: It is more powerful to exercise mercy  by granting life than it is to execute an innocent creature who only wants to live as much as you do. I never killed again after that.