Published on March 31st, 2011 | by Chris0
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
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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 InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Manufacturer: Warner Home Video
Original Release Date:
- Sam Waterston
- Haing S. Ngor
- John Malkovich
- Julian Sands
- Craig T. Nelson
... tour of Cambodia and Thailand and after hearing a great deal of discussion about this movie I was very ...,
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
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Killing Fields (DVD)In this film, the great Sam Waterson plays no-nonsense New York Times reporter Sid Shonberg, who is reporting on the Cambodian genocide of the early 1970s. In one early scene, he confronts an armed gaurd, pops him in the shoulder with his passport, and says "I am walking out of here, what are you going to do, blow my f---ing head off?" This after, from behind barbed wire, demanding to take a piss and obtain a pack of ciggarettes. All the man wants is to get back to work, nothing else matters.
Such risks are typical of this reporter, who usually works with Dith Prhan, native of and Shonberg's guide through war-ravaged Cambodia. Where Sydney will almost get in the face of anyone, or any gun barrel, Prhan is gentle and kind, making his way through danger using persistant persuasion and friendliness.
Shonberg has a habit early in the film of treating his counterpart as somewhat of a subordanent. When Prhan asks him if he is going to leave the country as the war... Read more
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
True to Cambodia,
By A Customer
This review is from: The Killing Fields (DVD)I was born in Cambodia at the end of the holocaust and my parents escaped the killing fields. This movie is a great representation of what happened there during Pol Pot's horrific reign. I love how the movie really shows all the political arguments against helping Cambodia at the time. It portrays America's ignorance and unwillingness to help a country that suffered a holocaust comparable to that of Nazi Germany. Three million people died and, yet, the U.S. did nothing to help. In fact, the U.S. military abandoned the country. American washed their hands clean of the events that were taking place. This movie not only helps to make Americans aware of what happened, but it also ridicules the country for its blantant ignorance. Although this movie has many horrible and graphic scenes in it, none is comparable to actually being there and experiencing those events first hand. My parents survived it, although millions did not. Every Cambodian family has had at least one family... Read more
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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.