When OJ Simpson was acquitted of murder charges, it seemed only a video of the actual murder would have convinced the out-of-touch jurors of his brutal crime. Kimjongilia, the new documentary directed by N.C. Heikin, is enough proof-on-film to convict North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il of mass murder, terrorism, and sadistic insanity.
Like Chaplin's exposure of the holocaust in The Great Dictator, Kimjongilia forces us to face one man's deadly hell through his victim's blood and tears. The documentary mixes victims' first-person tales with cold facts to lay bare the hell behind the rhetoric of North Korea. Darfur has been a pet cause of celebrities for months and months. With Kimjongilia, North Korea is another atrocity for even the most naïve to add to their list.
The documentary filmed almost entirely in South Korea exposes the inexplicable insanity of hate, abuse, repression, megalomania, and greed. North Korea abhors its own. Most of Kim Jong Il's victims suffer in camps because of his policy to imprison three generations of the family of anyone who does ill against the regime.
Humanity is a brutal force. Leaders need to take us to more evolved destinations. In Kim Jong Il's case, evolution is finding the next best way to make dissenters, or anyone his command chooses, suffer. Kimjongilia peels back the layers of rhetoric exposing the raw criminal minds running one of the world's most outrageously frightening countries.
I suspect if nothing else, we can learn that history - and dictators - will always repress the weakest and capitalize for their own demented greed. With Adolf Hitler so close in history's rearview mirror it's sad to note how quickly another lunatic rose up to humanity's low.
Kimjongilia closes today, 20 August at the IFC Center in Manhattan at Sixth Avenue and West Third Street. 212-924-7771