top of page

Act of Killing and Banality of Evil

Justification of evil

Note: This is an essay/journal after watched “Act of Killing”, and reading Hannah Arendt’s The Banality of Evil.

War happens everywhere, and every moment. Whether you like it or not, that’s a fact. Human kill each other for profit or their ideology. Act of Killing was very well reviewed indonesian language documentary that were nominated in Academic award for best documentary feature, and won many awards from really well known international film festivals. The film is about a gangster, who killed thousands of communists during 1965 and 1966. 1.5 millions died for being communist in a name of justice. The story is begins with Anwar Congo, and Adi Zukardry’s determination of showing the massacre incidents in film. These two people had no idea, how to make a film, but they surely know every single stories behind there as the death squad gangster member during the massacre. Again, if you read my previous journal, you would understood that I have been digging into Hannah Arendt’s Banality of Evil based on Eichmann’s behavior in the court. Now If you watched “Act of Killing”, you might see the parallel relationship between these two different stories. Today I’d like to go over the these stories based on compare and contrast essay format.

Firstly, shamelessness is the key word to describe both Anwar and Eichmann’s behavior. Both are proudly telling others what they have done. It’s almost like my cat caught a mouse and giving it to me and asking me for petting. Yes, they simply do not show any of guiltiness. Anwar and Adi try to hire ordinary people and making a film of remaking the scene that they remembered. Unlike Eichmann’s case, these two Indonesians are almost surrealistically happy to show what they have done, even method of how they killed people efficiently.

The efficiency is important for both Anwar and Eichmann. Eichmann used his “network” jewish leaders to bring whole 6 millions of innocent into a hell very efficiently. On the other hand, Anwar uses an iron wire to kill thousands of people without blood on a rooftop, where the first floor is currently running as a fashion clothes store surrealistically. For them, there are nothing more important than “transporting”, and killing people without issue quickly, and quietly.

According to Hannah, Eichmann’s life is too ordinary to be an evil. On the other hand, Anwar and Adi Gangs are even more too normal to kill over thousands people directly without any guilty. Anwar has a grand sun and Adi has a daughter that they will be remembered as a normal father, and grandfather. They love to sing, and drink in a bar. Especially, Anwar’s case, he loves to dance Cha Cha Cha. They seem to be very happy for their life. It seems, they don’t fear anything in the world.

However, as the film goes by, during making remaking scenes of massacre, Anwar became talkless, but showing us a bit bitter smiles during he is directing the film. One moment, even some of his gang member argues that Adi and Anwar shouldn’t show certain moments that make their reputation look bad, when they hear one of the extra’s behind the story, whom lost his step chinese father very cruelly. But, Adi keep arguing that “they must show this incidents to their future generation. It’s just a part of history, and now nobody will give them a hard time” Adi says.

Real ironic of this scene is that some of the gang members feel guilty and knew what they have done. And the remaking of massacre won’t give them a good reputation anyway. However, Anwar and Adi kept making and showing how they killed these innocent chinese people, whether they were communist or not. On the other hand, during the court, Eichmann knew what he has done definitely. But, did he feel guilty? No, he said, he did what he had to do, but there wasn’t an emotion for what he has done. Now, if Eichmann alived today, would he be guilty?

At the end of the scene of the Act of the Killing, Anwar finally collapsed himself from the guiltiness. Although, his mind isn’t technically agreed to the guilty, it seems his body reacts very differently. Unlike his body, Anwar was trying to show us how to kill people using the iron wire… If this was the case for Anwar, wouldn’t Eichmann also had the same psychological status that Anwar had? Unlike what he said, Eichmann’s body reacted differently like Anwar.

Before, I make the conclusion, I would like to add my personal view about banality of evil in real world after I’ve watched Vice News’s interview on Werner Herzog’s pov of his film(Herzog was the EP) Than, I’ve read several replies based on the reaction.

Like these replies, Banality of Evil is everywhere. People easily make a judgement without “Thinking” On the other hand, I feel guilty myself that I wasn’t thinking deep enough mylife what my decision might occur to the future.

In conclusion, Act of Killing is a great example for comparing Hannah Arendt’s Banality of Evil. It’s because both of them showed us how an ordinary men became lack of understanding on humanity, losing moral decisions to make “Stupid” decisions that they could avoid.

Featured Posts
Recent Posts
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square
bottom of page