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The Killing Fields
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The Killing Fields (1984) More at IMDbPro »

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The Killing Fields -- An American citizen is trapped in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot's bloody "Year Zero" ethnic cleansing campaign, which claimed the lives of two million "undesirable" civilians.

Overview

User Rating:
7.9/10   38,572 votes »
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Down 1% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writer:
Bruce Robinson (screenplay)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Killing Fields on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
1 February 1985 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
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 »
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Awards:
Won 3 Oscars. Another 26 wins & 20 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
The Ultimate Ugly American Movie See more (180 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Sam Waterston ... Sydney Schanberg

Haing S. Ngor ... Dith Pran (as Dr. Haing S Ngor)

John Malkovich ... Al Rockoff

Julian Sands ... Jon Swain

Craig T. Nelson ... Military Attache

Spalding Gray ... U.S. Consul

Bill Paterson ... 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
Ira Wheeler ... Ambassador Wade
David Henry ... France

Patrick Malahide ... Morgan

Nell Campbell ... Beth
Joan Harris ... TV Interviewer

Joanna Merlin ... Schanberg's Sister
Jay Barney ... Schanberg's Father
Mark Long ... Noaks
Sayo Inaba ... Mrs. Noaks
Mow Leng ... Sirik Matak
Chinsaure Sar ... Arresting Officer
Hout Ming Tran ... K.R. Cadre-First Village
Thach Suon ... Sahn
Neevy Pal ... Rosa
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Charles Bodycomb ... Jeep Driver (uncredited)

Directed by
Roland Joffé 
 
Writing credits
Bruce Robinson (screenplay)

Produced by
David Puttnam .... producer
Iain Smith .... associate producer
 
Original Music by
Mike Oldfield 
 
Cinematography by
Chris Menges (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
Jim Clark 
 
Casting by
Marion Dougherty 
Susie Figgis 
Pat Golden 
Juliet Taylor  (as Juliette Taylor)
 
Production Design by
Roy Walker 
 
Art Direction by
Roger Murray-Leach 
Steve Spence 
 
Costume Design by
Judy Moorcroft 
 
Makeup Department
Ronnie Cogan .... key hair stylist
Yvonne Coppard .... makeup artist
James Keeler .... hair stylist: Toronto
Ken Lintott .... makeup artist
Tommie Manderson .... makeup supervisor
Sophy Pradith .... makeup artist
Chris Taylor .... hair stylist
Freddie Williamson .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
David Coatsworth .... production manager: Toronto
Robin Douet .... production supervisor
Charles Hubbard .... unit production manager: Thailand
Claude Hudson .... production manager: Bangkok
Philip Kohler .... production manager: Phuket (as Phil Kohler)
Barrie Melrose .... production manager: Thailand
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
David Barron .... assistant director
David Brown .... assistant director
Alan Goluboff .... assistant director: Toronto
Charles Hubbard .... assistant director: second unit
Buranee Rachjaibun .... assistant director
Howard Rothschild .... assistant director: Toronto
Sompol Sungkawess .... assistant director
Gerry Toomey .... assistant director
Bill Westley .... first assistant director
 
Art Department
Martin Atkinson .... assistant art director
Paul Bradburn .... props
Jacques M. Bradette .... set dresser: Toronto
Howard Brown .... graphics
Ken Court .... assistant art director
Tessa Davies .... set dresser
Len Day .... chargehand carpenter
George Dean .... chargehand painter
Andrew Deskin .... head props: Toronto
Patrick Doyle .... stagehand
Len Furey .... construction manager
John Gorham .... graphics
Julie Graysmark .... draughtswoman
Fred Gunning .... supervising chargehand carpenter
Bill Harman .... construction manager: Toronto
Frank Henry .... chargehand carpenter
Ronald Kent .... painter
John Porter .... carpenter
Michael Quayle .... chargehand plasterer
Ron Quelch .... production buyer
John Roberts .... master painter
Alan Seabrook .... chargehand painter
Mickey Spence .... supervising plasterer
Thomas Tarry .... supervising plasterer
Alan Taylor .... supervising carpenter
Andrew Tombs .... plasterer
Terry Wells .... property master
Dave Midson .... stand-by prop (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Peter Compton .... footsteps editor (as Ray Compton)
Ian Fuller .... dubbing editor
Leonard Green .... assistant dialogue editor (as Lenny Green)
David Grimsdale .... assistant dubbing editor
Dushko Indjic .... boom operator (as Dushan Indjic)
Eddy Joseph .... dialogue editor
Ray Merrin .... assistant dubbing mixer
Ric O'Connor .... assistant footsteps editor (as Rick O'Connor)
Bill Rowe .... dubbing mixer
Niwat Sumneangsanor .... sound assistant
Robert Taylor .... second camera sound mixer (as Bob Taylor)
Clive Winter .... sound mixer
Tony Jackson .... sound recordist: UK (uncredited)
 
Special Effects by
Alan Bryce .... special effects technician (as Allan Bryce)
Fred Cramer .... special effects supervisor
Andrew 'Sandy' Overholtzer .... special effects technician (as Andrew Overholtzer)
Melvyn Pearson .... special effects technician
Jay King .... special effects technician (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
Stefan Lange .... opticals (as NEIL SHARP of Kays)
Costas Charitou .... opticals: Camera Effects Ltd (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Terry Forrestal .... stunt arranger
 
Camera and Electrical Department
James Ainslie .... clapper loader
David Appleby .... still photographer
Jonn Barry .... electrician
Peter Bloor .... gaffer
Ray Boyle .... gaffer: Toronto
Tony Breeze .... assistant camera: second unit
Peter Casey .... generator operator
John Clark .... best boy
Tony Cridlin .... grip (as Tony Cridlin Jr.)
John Field .... rigger
Judy Freeman .... video operator
Jeremy Gee .... focus puller
Eddie Knight .... electrician
Agapios Louka .... camera maintenance
Robert McRae .... key grip: Toronto
Eric Melville .... electrician trainee
Allan Mills .... electrician
Satharn Pairaoh .... assistant camera
Mike Roberts .... camera operator
Stephen Samson .... rigger
Ivan Strasburg .... director of photography: second unit
Roland Neveu .... special shoot photographer (uncredited)
 
Casting Department
Say Hong .... casting assistant
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Anthony Black .... wardrobe assistant
Keith Denny .... wardrobe supervisor
Norman Dickens .... wardrobe master
Keith Morton .... wardrobe master
Marc O'Hara .... wardrobe master: Toronto
Doungporn Soawapap .... wardrobe assistant
Gary Wells .... wardrobe assistant
 
Editorial Department
Bryan Oates .... first assistant editor
Anne Sopel .... second assistant editor
Tony Tromp .... editor trainee
 
Music Department
David Bedford .... composer: additional music
David Bedford .... music arranger: choral
David Bedford .... orchestrator
Greg Fulginiti .... music engineer
John Gale .... music consultant
Eberhard Schoener .... conductor
 
Transportation Department
Brian Hathaway .... action vehicles manager
John Hollywood .... unit driver: London
Michael Jones .... transportation coordinator
Pamela Wells .... transportation manager
 
Other crew
Barbara Allen .... production coordinator: Thailand
Judy Arthur .... press liaison: USA
Simon Atherton .... armorer
Joan Bull .... unit nurse
Paul Caldicott .... catering assistant
Rachelle Charron .... accountant: Toronto
Diane Chittell .... production coordinator: Canada
Nobby Clark .... supervising rigger (as Roy T. Clark)
Dominic Clooney .... catering supervisor
Teresa Colman .... assistant to producer
Con Cremins .... assistant accountant
Penny Eyles .... continuity
Kate Fitzmaurice .... voice coach
Brian Harris .... production accountant
John Hemmings .... liaison
Gilly Hodson .... publicity: Enigma
Christine Hoy .... assistant accountant
Alan Kingham .... catering assistant
Dean McGill .... catering assistant
Richard Morrison .... title designer
Richard Nesbitt .... unit doctor
Len Nieder .... catering manager
Uberto Pasolini .... unit runner
Santa Pestonji .... production executive: Thailand
Betty Sharp .... secretary to accountant
Julie Sheppard .... attachment: National Film School
Phillip Small .... catering assistant
Andy Birmingham .... production accountant (uncredited)
Hugh O'Donnell .... location assistant (uncredited)
Sasisupa Sungvaribud .... assistant to production supervisor: Thailand (uncredited)
 
Thanks
Denis Cameron .... thanks
Murray Carmichael .... thanks (as Dr. Murray Carmichael)
Tim Carney .... thanks
Patricia Churchill .... thanks (as Pat Churchill)
Pat Coulter .... thanks (as Majot Pat Coulter)
Neil Davis .... thanks
Sylvana Foa .... thanks
Mervyn Jones .... thanks
Paul McCartney .... thanks
Sarah McLean .... thanks
John Norton .... thanks
Bruce Palling .... thanks
Adrian Stevens .... thanks
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies
  • Bapty and Co.  armourer's employer
  • Blowup  stills processing
  • Camera Effects  opticals by
  • Coca-Cola Export, The  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as The Coca-Cola Export Corporation)
  • International Committee of the Red Cross  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as The International Committee for the Red Cross)
  • Joe Dunton Cameras  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as Joe Dunton Cameras Limited)
  • Lee Electric  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as Lee Electric Limited)
  • Location Caterers  catering
  • Mayflower Recording  adr recording
  • New York Times, The  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as The New York Times)
  • Olympus Optical  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as Olympus Optical {U.K.} Limited)
  • Optical Film Effects  opticals by (as OPTICAL FILM EFFECTS Ltd.)
  • Oxfam  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made
  • Pan Books  novel published by
  • People of Bangkok, Thailand, The  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as The People of Bangkok, Thailand)
  • People of Hua-Hin, Thailand, The  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as The People of Hua-Hin, Thailand)
  • People of Khao-I-Dang Refugee Camp, The  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as The People of Khao-I-Dang Refugee Camp)
  • People of Phuket, Thailand, The  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as The People of Phuket, Thailand)
  • Thai International Airways  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made
  • The Grip House  grip's employer
  • Thorn EMI Film Studios Ltd.  dubbing mixing
  • Toronto Star Newspapers (TSNL)  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made (as Toronto Star)
  • U.S. Marine Corps  our grateful thanks are due to the following without whose help and co-operation this film would not have been made
  • William F. White International  grip and lighting equipment

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
141 min
Country:
Color:
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
The evacuation of Phnom Penh involved 3000 extras.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When listening to the news on the radio in the French consulate, a bottle of Champagne and a glass are standing on the piano. In the next cut, the bottle and the glass are gone. Another journalist then brings both items to the piano 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...
See more »
Soundtrack:
Band On The RunSee more »

FAQ

There are flashes of blue amongst the remains of the victims in the killing fields - what are those blue things?
The village that was bombed before the movie starts, is it real? Is this a real event?
What are/were the killing fields?
See more »
103 out of 132 people found the following review useful.
The Ultimate Ugly American Movie, 5 October 2003
Author: Bill Slocum (bill.slocum@gmail.com) from Greenwich, CT United States

Oh, this brings me back alright. It was the last days of 1984, and earnest college students like me had much to talk about. Wasn't it wonderful that Walter Mondale had chosen a strong woman like Geraldine Ferraro to be his running mate, and wouldn't the Democrats sweep the Northeast at least for that brave move? Does buying a Coke at the local convenience store signal support for the apartheid government in South Africa? Did anyone else see that amazing film about the human price of American involvement in Southeast Asia?

It's nearly 20 years later, and I've managed to shake the ill effects of my youthful liberalism easily enough in most cases. This film, however, packs the kind of punch that isn't explained away by political trendiness.

"The Killing Fields" is a great film that tries and succeeds in capturing much of the carnage and tragedy of Cambodia as the radicalized Khmer Rouge and the U.S.-backed regime of Lon Nol controlling Phnom Penh clash in a fight to the death to be/not be the next domino in the Communist rollover in Southeast Asia. By particularizing the conflict to that of the true-life relationship of two men, New York Times reporter Syndey Schanberg and his Cambodian apprentice and aide-de-camp, Dith Pran, the film forces a level of empathy that is at once uncomfortable and absorbing. It is possible to walk away from this film hating the manipulation, the America-bashing, the easy liberal guilt. But it's impossible to walk away from the human experience borne witness to before the movie's done, if one has any pretense of being human, and that's its great strength.

Oh, it's polemical alright. We hear comments about how the Khmer Rouge's excesses were the direct result of Nixon's secret bombing campaign. (U.S. Counsel: "After what the Khmer Rouge have been through, I don't think they'll be exactly affectionate toward Westerners." Schanberg: "Maybe we underestimated the anger $7 billion in bombing would unleash.") It makes its point, absolves Pol Pot and condemns Kissinger with the same broad brush, and it feels a bit jaded and hollow for that, but I don't know. Schanberg betrays the attitudes of a knee-jerk liberal, and I outgrew that, and maybe I feel superior for that, but Schanberg had AK-47s pointed at his head by 12-year-old brainwashed boys, and I didn't, so shut up already, know what I mean?

The performances are incredible in their verisimilitude, particularly the leads. Sam Waterson burns with righteous anger as Schanberg, and I like his performance for what it is and how he creates that extra level of tension, but he's a butterfly compared to the condor that's Dr. Haing S. Ngor, one of the Academy's most obscure best supporting actor recipients (there was even a joke about it in an episode of "The Simpsons") but someone who didn't just walk the walk. He relived his experience surviving a holocaust that was, per square mile, even more savage than the Holocaust itself. The fact he won a Best Supporting Actor award (Waterson instead was nominated for Best Actor, and lost to F. Murray Abraham for "Amadeus") is one of those perversities of film history, given he carries more of the film than Waterson (who slinks to the background two-thirds of the way in) but also that he personalizes the story in a way that makes the incomprehensible immediate and involving.

We lost Ngor to a senseless murder a few years ago, and have little left to explain what was going through his mind as he relived an experience that cost him his wife and child when he actually lived through it. Roland Joffe does a nice job in the DVD commentary, though, a commentary I put up there with P. T. Anderson's "Boogie Nights" and William Peter Blatty's "The Ninth Configuration" for being worth the price of the DVD and then some by itself. He recalls Ngor's reaction to one child actress whose hard face in enacting a scene convinced Ngor she wasn't just pretending to be Khmer Rouge, and Ngor's request that Joffe participate in one critical scene by muttering real torments Ngor suffered at the hands of the "KR" as a way of enhancing his performance. At one point, trying to convince him to come aboard, Joffe said something about Ngor owing it to his country to bear witness to his story, and that of Dith Pran, and that did the trick, though Joffe seems to wonder if the same sort of manipulation Schanberg pulled on Pran wasn't going on here, too.

It's a great movie because it doesn't shy away from uncomfortable truths, because it never loses sight of the human dimension, and because it gave a pretense of understanding to one of the great human traumas after World War II. We never wallow in gore, but the cost of this war is always with us while we watch. The experience is both endurable and humiliating.

I just wish they reshot that ending, with "Imagine." Joffe in his commentary even notes the lyrics are the sort of thing Pol Pot would have gone along with. It feels forced. Did Yoko Ono give her approval after they explained the scene her dead husband's song would appear in, or after they told her the first nasty execution scene would be shot while "Band On The Run" issued forth from a soldier's radio?

A great movie, of an awful moment in human history. If we have any chance of overcoming man's sorry past, it will be because movies like this one get made once in a while.

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