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
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Killing Fields (Amazon Video)I don't think I ever fully realized the extent of the horrors perpetrated by Pol Pot on the Cambodian people after the American withdrawal from Phnom Penh. It all happened when I was a teenager and I tried to focus away from anything bad happening in the world at that age. I did not see this movie when it came out either. I finally decided I needed to know a little more about Cambodia and turned to this movie to learn a little more about what happened. Two MILLION people were murdered by the Khmer Rouge -- some quickly, many slowly and horribly -- by starvation, overwork and torture. The worst thing anyone could be in the years following the Khmer Rouge takeover was educated. Educated, smart people were the first to go -- the ones who suffered the most horrible punishments.
The movie realistically depicts the fall of Phnom Penh and the events that directly led to it. The characters played by Sam Waterston, Haing Ngor and John Malkovich were/are real people and the story of... Read more
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a wonderful movie teaching about the evil of Pot Pol and ...,
This review is from: The Killing Fields (DVD)This is a wonderful movie teaching about the evil of Pot Pol and what went on in this Holocaust in our lifetime. Pot Pol was the Cambodian head of state and the leader of the Khmer Rouge regime, which was responsible for the deaths of more than one million people through execution, starvation or overwork between 1975 and 1979. I recently traveled to Cambodia and visited the actual Killing Fields. After years of torture, victims were taken to a field and killed through hanging, being shot, or other horrible means. They have a monument that is filled with skulls that you see through the glass protecting the skulls. There were so many people buried here that they quit digging. They have built wood walkways slightly above the ground so you do not walk on this sacred ground. These victims were buried in mass graves in the "Killing Fields." I also bought the movie "S21" and I think they should be seen together. This is history, it happened, hard to believe. Pot Pol... Read more
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I have waited a long time...,
This review is from: Killing Fields, The: 30th Anniversary (BD) [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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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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.