The Killing Fields

The Killing Fields

Roland Joffé (1984)

136min
15 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Few feature films have captured a nation's agony more dramatically than Roland Joffé's The Killing Fields. It tells the story of Cambodia's Year Zero, when Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge entered the capital, Phnom Penh, emptied it, turned the population into serfs and slaughtered nearly three million of them. To tell the story of this genocide, the picture has one conventional aspect - the perspective of American journalist Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) - and one less so - the experiences of his Cambodian stringer, Dith Pran, played by Haing S Ngor, a Cambodian doctor whose own suffering at the time was, if anything, even worse than that depicted in the film. Produced by David Puttnam and co-starring John Malkovich, the picture has scale and humanity - the evacuation of the capital is stunning; Ngor's suffering has great emotional force while Waterston's complex mixture of shame and ambition is compelling. Bruce Robinson's script - he later made Withnail & I - concentrates on the personal rather than the political (the Vietnamese liberation isn't mentioned) and the music is awful, but this is still one of the greatest pictures of the 1980s. Dr Ngor, who won an Oscar, was murdered in Los Angeles in 1996.

Summary

Oscar-winning fact-based drama following an American reporter's harrowing experiences in 1970s Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge's fight for control of the country. He develops a close friendship with his Cambodian guide, whom he is forced to leave behind to possibly become a victim of the murderous new regime. Starring Sam Waterston, Haing S Ngor, John Malkovich and Spalding Gray.

Cast & Crew

Sydney Schanberg Sam Waterston
Dith Pran Haing S Ngor
Al Rockoff John Malkovich
Jon Swain Julian Sands
Military attaché Craig T Nelson
US consul Spalding Gray
Dr MacEntire Bill Paterson
Dr Sundesval Athol Fugard
Dougal Graham Kennedy
Ser Moeun, Pran's wife Katherine Kragum Chey
Titony, Pran's son Oliver Pierpaoli
Sarun Edward Entero Chey
US military adviser Tom Bird
Phat, Khmer Rouge Leader, second village Monirak Sisowath
Phat's son Lambool Dtangpaibool
Ambassador Wade Ira Wheeler
France David Henry
Morgan Patrick Malahide
Beth Nell Cambell
TV interviewer Joan Harris
Director Roland Joffé
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourTheatrical distributor: Columbia-Emi-Warner Dists LtdGuidance: Violence and swearing. Available on: video, DVD and Blu-ray
Drama