The following is reblogged, excerpted and modified, from e²mc.
How do films deal with historical atrocities? And how might they enable them in the first place?
The Act of Killing is Joshua Oppenheimer’s chilling documentary about the perpetrators of the mass murders committed by the Suharto regime’s paramilitary death squads in mid-1960s Indonesia. The filmmakers interview some of the worst of the perpetrators and — controversially — invite them to re-enact the killings for the camera, filming these scenes in the style of their favorite film genres. This interplay between mass murder and Hollywood movies — gangsters, westerns, and musicals — is a focus of the film.
Here are my introductory comments to the 2010 documentary Waste Land, delivered yesterday at the Fleming Museum in Burlington and shown in connection with the exhibition High Trash, which runs until May 19.
1. Find where nature and culture (river and engineering) slam into each other in a passionate wave. Ride it.
Observations: To enjoy it at all, you have to be good. Some of these guys (and women) are really good. If you stay up for more than the first couple of seconds, you’re in. 15 seconds, you’re good. 25 seconds, you’re great. A minute would be awesome; I didn’t see it, but some came close (into the 40s). Finally, when you gotta go down, find a graceful way to do it.