Drama Movie

The Act of Killing It is easy to be a good person, but hard to be a bad person

Operation Kill” is one of the best works I have seen at this year’s Hong Kong International Film Festival, not only because of the shocking subject matter, but also because the director spent seven and a half years in Indonesia to make the documentary and learned Indonesian.

During the film, I kept hearing disdainful angry and sneering voices from the audience, which was the first time I encountered them: “Gangster, which in English means free man, is righteous, they defend the freedom of the country from communism”. These murderers, who have had the blood of innocents on their hands for more than 40 years, have the audacity to spread this absurd lie around, and shamelessly flaunt their massacres in front of the cameras, at conferences, and on TV programs, which “seem absurd to us law-abiding, civilized people!

In 1965-66, more than one million Indonesian communists, leftists, intellectuals and Chinese were massacred during the Indonesian military government’s “anti-communist” purge, and to avoid responsibility, the Indonesian military handed over the massacre to local hooligans. More than forty years later, the hoodlums and their families have become powerful local figures, reaping both power and profit, while the survivors and the families of the victims remain silent about the past, even though the murderer of their father or grandfather lives across the street.

When director Joshua Oppenheimer first started filming the documentary, interviewing survivors and families of the victims of the Holocaust, he found that most of the interviewees were afraid to talk about the past, and the filming was constantly obstructed by the government and the police. He interviewed forty of them, listened to them brag about their past, and took him back to the places where the massacres were committed.

In fact, here I think most people have thought of the director has two paths to take, absolutely can make a historical documentary to cleanse the heart. One is to continue to follow the victims for the thrilling shooting, along with the government and military chasing oppression, full of blood and tears of the past is slowly uncovered, standing in the position of the absolutely vulnerable to appeal for them, so that they are repressed by the power of the tightly closed mouth for the first time to the world their own voice, both just and touching; or to follow the advice to turn to interviews Anwar Gongo and other killers, showing them As the filming progresses, the nightmares and torments of their conscience are gradually revealed, and there is a long human heart underneath the murderous exterior, so as to gain the audience’s sympathy and historical understanding. Both narratives are not uncommon, and it is not a bad idea to imagine using either angle on this black-and-white subject matter.

However, these reflections have been completed before the director directed the film, he saw the victims’ hearts and fears of the wounded, but also from the forty massacre of the body to understand that they are not imaginary evil, like ordinary people, have a job, a family, and even have children and grandchildren, living a normal life, even if they are hooligans and gangsters, so what, not every street protection money collection gangster are down The company’s main goal is to provide a better solution to the problem. So, when he met Anwar Gongo, he took more questions and did something different.

He gave the stage and the camera to them, the mass murderers, and let them recreate this history in their own way, expressing their understanding of it, their imagination of themselves in it. At first, I think Anwar and his colleagues did not think too much about it, they have long been used to the set they advocate, their own understanding of justice, just as the anti-communist propaganda films shown year after year in Indonesia, the communists are the devil, the massacre back then to protect the country, is the perpetrator of justice, so although sometimes sleepless at night, will have nightmares about those whose heads he had cut off, Anwar also did not feel anything No big deal, after all, he is a good man, the ghosts of his sword are evil people. At the beginning of the shoot, Anwar and his man Herman almost seemed to be playing around, with some playful exaggeration of the villagers he was chasing, holding their mother’s crying child.

However, as they let their imaginations unfold richly, it was as if a gaping hole had been ripped open behind the crowning justification, and doubts and fears continued to flow out, and they couldn’t stop laughing. When the scenes of the burning of villages and the rape of women and children were filmed, Anwar wandered bewilderedly in front of the camera between the fires and the screams, and those who were just crowd actors, but realistically responding to the chase and atrocities of the “Five Commandments Youth” who played the perpetrators, but it was shocking enough that after the shooting was finished, Hermann coaxed the frightened and crying Perhaps what Anwar thought at that moment was that even acting can scare people, let alone those who experienced the real history of the parties? And that it was so hard to even dry the tears of a child actor, let alone silence the millions of victims who had lost their families? They must be cursing us, all the time. In the past, Anwar would have said the same thing, because these communists were evil and therefore cursed their enemies, but now he panicked because the curses were motivated by real hurt and pain.

Finally, he chose to play the role of the victim who had been killed by his own interrogation, to experience what it was like to sit at his desk, to be interrogated and abused, to be strangled to death by his own extremely clever invention, the wire, and he simply could not continue filming. At that moment I felt that I had lost all my dignity and was full of fear, and he said, “I think I felt what the people I killed felt. We feel the same way. That’s what Anwar said at the end.

The director said, “No, those victims won’t feel the same as you, because you’re just rehearsing the scene and it’s over when you shout cut, while those victims know they’re really going to die.

From the initial living in the imagination of the good guy who is not guilty of murder, until the imagination of his and the victims are not far apart, Anwar has been forced to step back by his own imaginary interpretation, but the director gave the final blow, no matter how you imagine, in your imagination and your own hand-caused reality, there is still a huge gulf between.

Imagine that you are the good guys, and they are evil, so you bloodshed thousands of lives still worthy of praise; but the reality is not so. This reality is not the director’s reality, but the reality that lives in the minds of these people, they know that perhaps they are the evil, perhaps because they can not accept this reality, they create one lie after another, to imagine instead of reality. It is not the imagination that constructs the reality, but the imagination exists because of the reality, because it does not want to face the reality, but because it is repeated again and again, it seems to be the reality is still real.

Whether Anwar finally accepts reality, what kind of reality he accepts, and how he faces it, is not known. Perhaps we can simply imagine that his reality changed from “I am good and they are evil” to “I am evil and they are good”, or to “no one is good or evil, everyone is human “. However, this is only our imagination after all. Whether it is sensational or calm, it is always easy to promote a sense of justice or compassion, but this documentary made me terrified.

“Woe to you! For you have built the tomb of the Prophet, who was killed by your ancestors. You can see that what your fathers did, you prove and love; for they killed the prophets, and you build the tombs of the prophets. Therefore God in wisdom hath said, I will send unto them prophets and apostles, some of them to kill, and some of them to persecute, that all the sins of the blood of the prophets which have been shed since the foundation of the world may be asked of this generation, beginning with the blood of Abel, and ending with the blood of Zechariah, who was slain upon the altar and in the midst of the temple. Verily, verily, I say unto you, It shall be upon this generation.

Today we make dismissive slurping noises from the audience because we are righteous in comparison to these murderous maniacs, and when we look back at history, we mourn for the sufferers. But I am afraid that one day we will find out that we are not always good people, that we are just as human as the evil people we thought we were; I am afraid that one day we will realize that there is such a big gap between our imagination and reality; and I am more afraid that when we run away and rationalize all the way until the day we are cornered, it will be too late.

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