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S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine (2003)
"S-21, la machine de mort Khmère rouge" (original title)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 697 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 13 user | 27 critic | 12 from Metacritic.com

Documentary of the S-21 genocide prison in Phnom Penh with interviews of prisoners and guards. On the search for reasons why this could have happened.

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Cast

Credited cast:
Khieu 'Poev' Ches ...
Himself - Guard
Yeay Cheu ...
Herself - Him Houy's Mother
Nhiem Ein ...
Himself - Photographer
Houy Him ...
Himself - Security deputy
Ta Him ...
Himself - Him Houy's Father
Nhieb Ho ...
Himself - Guard
Prakk Kahn ...
Himself - the Torturer
Peng Kry ...
Himself - Driver
Som Meth ...
Himself - Guard
Chum Mey ...
Himself - Survivor
Vann Nath ...
Himself - Survivor
Top Pheap ...
Himself - Interrogator & Typist
Tcheam Seur ...
Himself - Guard
Sours Thi ...
Himself - Head of Registers
Mak Thim ...
Himself - S21 Doctor
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Storyline

In 1975-79, the Khmer Rouge waged a campaign of genocide on Cambodia's population. 1.7 million Cambodians lost their lives to famine and murder as the urban population was forced into the countryside to fulfill the Khmer Rouges' dream of an agrarian utopia. In S21, Panh brings two survivors back to the notorious Tuol Sleng prison (code-named "S21"), now a genocide museum where former Khmer Rouge are employed as guides. Painter Vann Nath confronts his former captors in the converted schoolhouse where he was tortured, though by chance he did not suffer the fate of most of the other 17,000 men, women and children who were taken there, their "crimes" meticulously documented to justify their execution. The ex-Khmer Rouge guards respond to Nath's provocations with excuses, chilling stoicism or apparent remorse as they recount the atrocities they committed at ages as young as 12 years old. To escape torture, the prisoners would confess to anything, and often denounce everyone they knew - ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

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Details

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Language:

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Release Date:

11 February 2004 (France)  »

Also Known As:

S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,302 (USA) (21 May 2004)

Gross:

$21,678 (USA) (20 August 2004)
 »

Company Credits

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Runtime:

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User Reviews

 
The Banality of Evil.
24 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have read the other comments on here and think that many people missed the point. This documentary illustrated the banality of evil very powerfully; it did not preach or try to shove the makers' opinion down the viewers' throat, like SO many other so-called documentaries do. This is not one of those "documentaries" which show edited footage and historical footage as a mere backdrop to put forth someone's opinion. That's what made it so powerful, to see the people who committed this incomprehensible evil and those that suffered it asking their own questions, trying to make sense of it all, trying to justify it, analyzing their roles in real time as the cameras roll. It was very evident that this was the first time many of them had questioned themselves on what they had done. The repetitive re-enactment and explanation of the guard's day to day activities were horrific in their normality. Even after all these years, after all that's happened, these men had no qualms about showing the world their routines, making it obvious that they don't equate their actions directly to the effects it had on their fellow country men and women. One has to remember that the guards were brain washed and indoctrinated by the communists at a very young age. This can be directly equated with what's happening in the world today with militant Islam. They're creating their own amoral killers and fanatics by indoctrinating and brain washing children. If nothing else, this documentary shows how once indoctrinated at a young age with fanatical ideology, all that remains for the rest of that persons life is an empty shell incapable of comprehending basic humanity.


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