1980s The Killing Fields (1984)

Published on March 31st, 2011 | by Chris

0

The Killing Fields (1984)


Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On March 31, 2011
Last modified:October 3, 2012

Summary:

There are some movies which are just plain difficult to watch, but you really need to watch them anyway. 1984's The Killing Fields is one of those pictures.

The Killing Fields (1984)There are some movies which are just plain difficult to watch, but you really need to watch them anyway.  1984's The Killing Fields is one of those pictures.

Towards the end of the Vietnam war, the US briefly attempted to expand the war into Cambodia, with disastrous results.  The existing government was overthrown and the Khmer Rouge regime took over, brutally eliminating any enemies to their cause.

Caught up in this series of events were American journalist Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston), local journalist Dith Pran (Haing Ngor) and Alan Rockoff (John Malkovich).  This movie really isn't so much about the war, as it is about these people, in particular Sydney and Pran, and their friendship.

They go into Cambodia to try and cover the recent US bombing raids, but when the regime changes, they find themselves locked up in the French embassy with several other journalists.  Luckily, Sydney was able to get Pran's family evacuated just in time.

Through an unfortunate series of events,  Pran is unable to follow Sydney and Alan as they are evacuated, despite their best efforts.  He spends the next four years as a prisoner of the KR.  Eventually making his way to the Thai border, where word of his escape finally reaches Schanberg, and their reunion is where the film ends.

Of course the backdrop to their story *is* the massacre of the Cambodian people at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.  Just one more aspect of the Vietnam war that gets glossed over and shoved under the rug.

At times its a bit difficult to follow exactly what is happening.  I think this actually helps the picture rather than hurts it.  Since the characters probably are in the same situation.  There really isn't much in the way of action here, either.  This is solely a character drama.  But its such a well-played, written, shot, and directed one that it can't be missed.

Take heed, this picture is as serious as serious gets.  There are a few brief moments of levity here and there, but by and large it will leave you sad and depressed.  Unfortunately, part of the mechanism is the obligatory and almost cliched heartstring-tugging images of crying babies and the like.  Somewhat necessary given the backdrop, but you know when you're being played.

The Killing Fields The Killing Fields
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Description

Waterston stars as New York Times reporter Schanberg, a journalist who covered the war in Cambodia. Ngor stars as Dith, the translator and aide, who is exiled to Cambodian labor camps where millions of others have died...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Brand: WATERSTON,SAM
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Original Release Date:
Actors:
  • Sam Waterston
  • Haing S. Ngor
  • John Malkovich
  • Julian Sands
  • Craig T. Nelson

Reviews

Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ... tour of Cambodia and Thailand and after hearing a great deal of discussion about this movie I was very ..., August 20, 2016
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This review is from: The Killing Fields (Amazon Video)
Having just returned from a tour of Cambodia and Thailand and after hearing a great deal of discussion about this movie I was very eager to finally get a chance to watch this highly praised film. What a disappointment. Slow moving story and unlikeble characters ruined the whole story for me. Cambodia today is still haunted by the excesses of the Khmer Rouge and most families we met lost at least one loved one during the rule of Pol Pot. I expected a much better portrayal of the Holocaust the Cambodian people (Khmer) endured. Yes, there were shocking scary scenes in the movie but I didn't get a sense of the overwhelming despair that the victims must have felt. Not like "Schindler's List". And the atrocities in Cambodia were every bit, if not worse than what happened in Nazi Germany.

Sam Waterston was a completely arrogant jackass who deserved whatever fate befell him. He exemplified all the things I hate about the modern day mass media. Everything was about... Read more
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have waited a long time..., January 7, 2014
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This movie is a real keeper. I saw it when it first was released and it really left an impression on me. I am a Vet and remember every thing according to the dates and where I was @ the time. This is a true story and as far as I know they did not take a lot of liberties with the film. The cast is out of this world and the cinematography will leave you speechless. It can be a bit hard to watch as it deals with mass genocide so it is not for kids. If you want a movie that will cause you to think and entertain at the same time than this is it. It was nominated 7 times and won 3. It should have won all 7. This one is worth every penny. You will not be sorry.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving tribute to one of the worst genocides in history., August 26, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Killing Fields (Amazon Video)
“The Killing Fields” is more intimate than your usual war-time drama, as it shows the experiences of the war through the eyes of only a select few, mostly of journalists Sydney and Pran. The two look on helplessly as they witness entire villages being torn apart, soldiers being executed, children crying out in pain, and, at one point, thousands of miscellaneous body parts jumbled up together alongside a murky swamp, which is where the term “the killing fields” first originated. It is a struggle just to stay alive while they try to document the war, and Sydney and Pran have several close calls with the Khmer Rouge, who do not want their actions being photographed.

The beautiful landscape of Cambodia is portrayed with lush, green mountains, and families living in small, peaceful villages. This is immediately clashed with the brutality and endless violence of the civil war. Yet, it is portrayed exactly as it must have happened, and at times “The... Read more
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The Killing Fields (1984) Chris

Summary: There are some movies which are just plain difficult to watch, but you really need to watch them anyway. 1984's The Killing Fields is one of those pictures.

4.0


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About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.



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