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The Killing Fields (1984)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  1 February 1985 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 40,517 users  
Reviews: 183 user | 68 critic

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



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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 Attache
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:





| | |

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
See  »

Did You Know?


The evacuation of Phnom Penh involved 3000 extras. See more »


When Schanberg and Pran visit the city of Neak Leung (which had just been accidentally hit by a B-52 strike) a group of Cambodian National Army operatives rush into town in a jeep. The song "Band on the Run" by Paul McCartney and Wings is blaring, supposedly from a radio on the jeep. While the scene was to have taken place in May, 1973, the song "Band on the Run" was not released until 1974. 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 »


Referenced in Speaking Parts (1989) See more »


Written by John Lennon (uncredited)
Performed by John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band (uncredited)
Courtesy of EMI Records Limited
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

One of the most beautiful and moving films ever made.
14 November 2004 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Camada) – See all my reviews

First of all I love this genre of movie; I'm not a huge fan of action or fantasy or romance movies, I have so-called "comedies" but I love genuine FILM, as in FILM not MOVIE; art as opposed to enterprise.

This film, The Killing Fields, is one of the defining films in it's class; based on the true story of an American journalist (one Sydney Schanberg) working in Cambodia and his guide/interpreter; a Cambodian named Dith Pran. When the Khmer Rouge (probably one of the most vicious and barbaric regimes in history) takes power the Westerners flee. The enterprising American, however, remains behind with his faithful guide (who sends his family off to America). This turns out to be a bad decision; through a series of misadventures Dith Pran cannot escape Cambodia and must remain behind while his friend flees. The movie weaves a wonderful tale of adventure, misadventure, loss, suffering, death, and reunion (in no particular order).

This movie is so beautiful and touching (and so very graphic) that one cannot help but be affected by it; a must-see, one of the defining movies on the subject of war as well as loss and certainly the most evocative film about the Khmer Rouge and the Viet Nam War in Cambodia. A beautiful film about war and tragedy but filled with hope throughout...

59 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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