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The Killing Fields

  • Documentary and factual
  • Drama
  • 1984
  • Roland Joffé
  • 136 mins
  • 15

Summary

Biographical war drama starring Sam Waterston, Dr Haing S Ngor and John Malkovich. Cambodia, 1973: American journalist Sydney Schanberg and his guide Dith Pran are operating out of the war-torn ruins of Phnom Penh. When the Khmer Rouge armies enter the city, foreign reporters find themselves the target of hatred and are rounded up, facing the prospect of possible execution.

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Review

A star rating of 5 out of 5.

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.

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Credits

Cast

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Sydney SchanbergSam Waterston
Dith PranHaing S Ngor
Al RockoffJohn Malkovich
Jon SwainJulian Sands
Military attachéCraig T Nelson
US consulSpalding Gray
Dr MacEntire Bill Paterson
Dr SundesvalAthol Fugard
DougalGraham Kennedy
Ser Moeun, Pran's wifeKatherine Kragum Chey
Titony, Pran's sonOliver Pierpaoli
SarunEdward Entero Chey
US military adviserTom Bird
Phat, Khmer Rouge Leader, second villageMonirak Sisowath
Phat's sonLambool Dtangpaibool
Ambassador WadeIra Wheeler
FranceDavid Henry
MorganPatrick Malahide
BethNell Cambell
TV interviewerJoan Harris

Crew

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DirectorRoland Joffé

Details

Theatrical distributor
Columbia-Emi-Warner Dists Ltd
Released on
1984-11-16
Languages
English | Khmer | Russian | French
Guidance
Violence and swearing.
Available on
video, DVD and Blu-ray
Formats
Colour
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