1980s The Killing Fields (1984)

Published on March 31st, 2011 | by Chris

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The Killing Fields (1984)


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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.

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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

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic to watch and learn, January 10, 2017
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I saw this movie when it came on theaters. I will use with my students in Social Studies, how politics and countries change in the last 30 or 40 years
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This DVD was advertised as Used, but it it like new., January 27, 2013
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This review is from: The Killing Fields (DVD)
I received this DVD on Friday Jan 25 and watched it that evening. I like this movie because it takes me back to what I was doing at the time, 1975 and what this country USA was like then. It is a classic movie in the sense of Dr. Ngor's performance and the horrors depicted. It also will cause you to recognize what happens when the USA or any country turns a blind eye to this kind of horrific treatment of other human beings in favor of "good politics". The USA was afraid of getting into another Vietnam which war we lost to "good politics". It is a shame when you see the Cambodians almost cheering when they see Vietnamese war planes as they are actually hoping the Vietnamese defeat the Khemer Rouge.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense, October 17, 2016
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This review is from: The Killing Fields (Amazon Video)
Very intense account of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge. Very disturbing at times, not for the faint of heart. Good movie but yet another stark reminder of how cruel humans can be to one another.
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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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