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The Killing Fields (1984)

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A journalist is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot's bloody "Year Zero" cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million "undesirable" civilians.



4,507 ( 122)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 24 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dith Pran (as Dr. Haing S Ngor)
Al Rockoff
Military Attaché
U.S. Consul
Dr. MacEntire
Athol Fugard ...
Dr. Sundesval
Graham Kennedy ...
Katherine Krapum Chey ...
Ser Moeum (Pran's Wife)
Oliver Pierpaoli ...
Titony (Pran's Son)
Edward Entero Chey ...
Tom Bird ...
U.S. Military Advisor
Monirak Sisowath ...
Phat (K.R. Leader 2nd Village)
Lambool Dtangpaibool ...
Phat's Son


Sydney Schanberg is a New York Times journalist covering the civil war in Cambodia. Together with local representative Dith Pran, they cover some of the tragedy and madness of the war. When the American forces leave, Dith Pran sends his family with them, but stays behind himself to help Schanberg cover the event. As an American, Schanberg won't have any trouble leaving the country, but the situation is different for Pran; he's a local, and the Khmer Rouge are moving in. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He was a reporter for the New York Times whose coverage of the Cambodian War would win him a Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. But the friend who made it possible was half the world away with his life in great danger... This is the story of war and friendship, the anguish of a country and of one man's will to live. See more »


Drama | History | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

1 February 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los gritos del silencio  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$34,600,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Actor Bruce Robinson penned a screenplay which he brought to producer David Puttnam, wanting his opinion on the 300 page draft he had written. Puttnam went off to talk to some directors about it and was particularly intrigued by Roland Joffé's take on the screenplay. Joffe maintained that it wasn't a war story but actually a love story between Dith Pran and Sidney Schanberg. This was enough for Puttnam to offer the project to Joffe. See more »


At the village of Neak Leung, a soldier is listening to Band on the Run by Wings. The accidental bombing of Neak Leung occurred in August 1973; the album Band on the Run was not released until October of that year. See more »


[first lines]
Sydney Schanberg: Cambodia. To many westerners it seemed a paradise. Another world, a secret world. But the war in neighboring Vietnam burst its borders, and the fighting soon spread to neutral Cambodia. In 1973 I went to cover this side-show struggle as a foreign correspondent of the New York Times. It was there, in the war-torn country side amidst the fighting between government troops and the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, that I met my guide and interpreter, Dith Pran, a man who was to change my life ...
See more »


Featured in Swimming to Cambodia (1987) See more »


Nessun dorma
(from Puccini's opera "Turandot")
Performed by Franco Corelli
Composed by Giacomo Puccini
Orchestra del Teatro dell Opera Di Roma
Conducted by Francesco Molinari Pradelli
Courtesy of EMI Records Limited
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Joffe's best work to date
22 January 2003 | by (India) – See all my reviews

Based on the Khmer Rouge revolution in Cambodia, this is an excellent tale of hardship and friendship. Basically director Roland Joffe` did an wonderful job in exposing the detailed facts so simply in the film that you believe that you are in that time in person. The two actors, Sam Waterson and Haing Ngor both displayed godlike pieces of acting. It's unfortunate Waterson couldn't join Ngor in Academy Awards. In addition, the director's credit is to highlight both the characters' points of view. That's why the movie became so interesting to watch. John Malkovich brought out a fine performance as a photographer.

In the course of the story of adventures of the two men, the film also has vivid descriptions of the public life during the war. Several detailed scenes of war violence are presented here so indifferently that you are bound to be convinced about its historical accuracy. Here we find the magical cinematography of Chris Menges. Again, during the time of Dith Pran's suffering, it never seemed that the director is showing too much.

One of the most important, and my favorite, aspects of the film is its ending. You cannot imagine of a better alternative of this happiest ending possible in a war drama. And with the fantastic use of Lennon's "imagine", it has got to an enormous height of perfection. 5/5.

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