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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.



3,987 ( 981)
Won 3 Oscars. Another 24 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Dith Pran (as Dr. Haing S Ngor)
U.S. Consul
Dr. MacEntire
Athol Fugard ...
Dr. Sundesval
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 the local journalist 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


Every so often, there is a film that is destined to be talked about and remembered for years to come. See more »


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


$14,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,181, 4 November 1984, Limited Release

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was part of a cycle of pictures made during the 1980s that featured journalists covering war. The movies include Salvador (1986), Under Fire (1983), Circle of Deceit [Circle of Deceit (1981)], Deadline (1987), Cry Freedom (1987), The Killing Fields (1984) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982). 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 ...
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Referenced in Entrails of a Virgin (1986) 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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User Reviews

Honest, Worthwhile film-making...
1 March 2005 | by See all my reviews

I saw this film a while back and just saw it again on TV. If you are interested in seeing a great, tense drama this is a good start. Honest and unapologetic directing from Roland Joffe and fine performances from Sam Waterston & John Malkovich (plus nicely played small parts by Craig T. Nelson & Spalding Gray.) Above all of them, however, is Haing S. Ngor as Dith Pran, the Cambodian journalist assisting the New York Times reporter played by Waterston during the conflicts in Cambodia around the time of the Vietnam war. This was Ngor's first film and had no previous acting experience. Quite a performance from Ngor, earning a well deserved Academy Award. Interesting note, Ngor himself led a very similar life to his character. Wonderfully touching film, you should see it.

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