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The Killing Fields (1984)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  1 February 1985 (USA)
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 39,895 users  
Reviews: 181 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 26 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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 ...
Dougal
Katherine Krapum Chey ...
Ser Moeum (Pran's Wife)
Oliver Pierpaoli ...
Titony (Pran's Son)
Edward Entero Chey ...
Sarun
Tom Bird ...
U.S. Military Advisor
Monirak Sisowath ...
Phat (K.R. Leader 2nd Village)
Lambool Dtangpaibool ...
Phat's Son
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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 »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

1 February 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los gritos del silencio  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$34,600,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Of all the real people involved in the story, the only major participant who refused to collaborate in the making of the movie was Al Rockoff, the character portrayed by John Malkovich. See more »

Goofs

When Sydney is talking to Dith Pran in his room, Sydney's hairstyle changes between shots. It goes from neatly combed to hanging down over his forehead to neatly combed again. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in Here's Looking at You, Warner Bros. (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

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
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

The best war film ever made.
7 November 2002 | by See all my reviews

Rating: **** Out of ****

Hard to say, but I believe when it comes to the war genre, The Killing Fields manages to edge out even Saving Private Ryan, and without a doubt, there's no better war film out there that's done a better job of capturing the realistic details and emotional loss of the time period (that being, the 70's in Cambodia/Vietnam).

Thus, I've always considered it a little odd that no one I know has even heard of this film. When lists of the greatest war films are decided, I don't believe I've ever seen this film crack any list. And the reason is simple: The Killing Fields is often ignored because it doesn't come from a soldier's point of view, and neither does it feature any adrenaline-pumping battle sequences. The fact that a strong portion of the film (about 2/5's) comes entirely from a Cambodian man's viewpoint might throw off a few viewers here and there. And yet, the film does just as fine a job as any anti-war film in creating a frightenining, chaotic world.

The performances all around superb without exception. Haing S. Ngor, who was tragically killed a few years ago, delivers a riveting, emotionally wrenching turn as the guide who is trapped in Cambodia and forced to fight for his life. He deservingly won the Oscar, though it's a shame he was snubbed for the best actor award. Inarguably, he's the film's central character and he also has more screen time than top-billed Sam Waterston. Despite my complaint on that matter, Waterston is also excellent as the journalist with a guilty conscience.

The Killing Fields is a suspenseful and exhilarating experience, a journey through an apocalyptic landscape that features one shocking image after another. Watch, and you'll see why the film is so acclaimed.


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