Friday, July 26, 2013

Indonesia: "The Act of Killing" (film)

Pat Macpherson, Seven, Maya, Wisdom Quarterly; Werner Herzog, Joshua Oppenheimer
Richard Gere, Ajahn Jumnien, Borobudur
Inspired by American movies and their depiction of killing, these gangsters (premans,"free men") are formed into right wing death squads by the government.
They then go on to murder hundreds of thousands of fellow Indonesians, particularly the left. Now a Muslim country, Indonesia was once a Theravada Buddhist land -- with the world's largest temple at Borobudur -- in the vein of India, Burma, and Thailand. But installed dictator after dictator (thank you, CIA) utterly made this paradise a haunted killing field along the lines of post-American-war on Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. 
Why Buddhist countries bore the brunt of US military-industrial complex violence-for-profit seems to relate to their peacefulness and docility. The Khmer Rouge, the Red Army, Communist insurgents and rebels were turned inside out to destroy these lands from within as America bombed them from without for no better reason than to use up bombs and make use of deployed soldiers already in place in "Indo China" (Southeast Asia).

Herzog confirms his standing as poet laureate of people in extreme situations with this visually stunning exploration. He travels to the Antarctic's McMurdo Station, the hub of the U.S. Antarctic Program, home to 1,100 Americans during the austral spring and summer.

Over the course of his journey, Herzog examines human nature and Mother nature, juxtaposing breathtaking locations with the profound, surreal, and sometimes absurd experiences of the marine biologists, physicists, plumbers, and truck drivers who choose to form a society as far away from society as one can get.

In "The Act of Killing" the filmmakers, led by Joshua Oppenheimer, revisit Suharto's Indonesia (glamorized in the "Year of Living Dangerously") during the extermination and genocide period celebrated by the media in the West as good news in Asia. Here the killers themselves -- still in power and celebrated as "heroes" even as they deal with visitations by the ghosts of those whom they murdered -- brag, explain, reenact, and rationalize their acts of killing. Werner Herzog has created another classic documentary following on the heels of his trip to American researchers at McMurdo Station ("Encounters at the End of the World") and the "Cave of Forgotten Dreams."

In "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" Herzog gains exclusive access to film inside the Chauvet caves of Southern France, capturing the oldest known pictorial creations of humankind in their astonishing natural setting. Neanderthal, pre-Neanderthal, Cro Magnon, Homo sapien, hybrid genetically manipulated evolving great ape being made more deva-like and "human" through art.

Werner Herzog and Errol Morris talk about "The Act of Killing"

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