The Killing Fields (1984)

R  |   |  Drama, History, War  |  1 February 1985 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 40,189 users  
Reviews: 182 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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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 <>

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 real Dith Pran went on to work as a celebrated photographer for the New York Times, often speaking out about the Cambodian genocide. He died of pancreatic cancer in 2008 at the age of 65, nursed in his final days by his ex-wife and his best friend, Sidney Schanberg. See more »


Throughout his entire trek through the jungle to salvation, Pran remains perfectly clean-shaven. 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 Peep Show: Sistering (2005) See more »


Band On The Run
Written by Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney (uncredited)
Performed by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine
Courtesy of MPL Communiactions, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

29 September 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Killing Fields is one of the most influential films of the 20th century. Its provocative and dangerous subject matter stresses the importance of communication and the freedom to communicate. Based on the Khmer Rouge occupation and genocide of Cambodia in the 1970's, the film tells the story of two men, catapulted into chaos and peril.

The movie is first and foremost, a historical account. The events are based off the true story of Dith Pran and Sydney Schanberg. Given that I had not known much about the Cambodian genocide of the 1970's prior to seeing this film, I must herald the piece as a successful feat of cinematography that served as both informational as well as inspirational. The film is believable, realistic, and heart wrenching. I immediately felt for the two main characters as they quickly exchanged trust and fell victim to the powers of political violence. While it is slightly romanticized, The Killing Fields still manages to produce a message with real life implications.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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