7.9/10
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189 user 69 critic

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.

Director:

Roland Joffé

Writer:

Bruce Robinson (screenplay)
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Won 3 Oscars. Another 24 wins & 22 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Attaché
Spalding Gray ... U.S. Consul
Bill Paterson ... Dr. MacEntire
Athol Fugard ... Dr. Sundesval
Graham Kennedy ... Dougal
Katherine Krapum Chey Katherine Krapum Chey ... Ser Moeum (Pran's Wife)
Oliver Pierpaoli Oliver Pierpaoli ... Titony (Pran's Son)
Edward Entero Chey Edward Entero Chey ... Sarun
Tom Bird Tom Bird ... U.S. Military Advisor
Monirak Sisowath Monirak Sisowath ... Phat (K.R. Leader 2nd Village)
Lambool Dtangpaibool Lambool Dtangpaibool ... Phat's Son
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Storyline

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

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 »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | French | Khmer | Russian

Release Date:

1 February 1985 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Los gritos del silencio See more »

Filming Locations:

USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$14,400,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,181, 4 November 1984, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$34,700,291
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

After Haing S. Ngor's murder, his niece went to his apartment to start sorting through his possessions, only to find that his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for The Killing Fields (1984) was sitting on his sideboard with all the gold rubbed off it. Obviously the award meant so much to the doctor-turned-actor that he had felt compelled to hold it continually to the extent that all the gold wore off. See more »

Goofs

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. 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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Soundtracks

Imagine
Written by John Lennon (uncredited)
Performed by John Lennon & The The Plastic Ono Band (uncredited)
Courtesy of EMI Records Limited
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Powerful, Important Film
30 July 2006 | by Barky44See all my reviews

I've finally seen The Killing Fields, more than 20 years after it was originally released.

This is one of the most powerful, important films ever made. It is so important, now as ever, for everyone to understand what evil truly is. This movie shows evil in its worst form: the form of mass murder thinly disguised as ideological cleansing.

What makes this film so special is not only the bare-faced method of its delivery (including some horrid shots of the dumping grounds of the murdered), but the way the film keeps a decidedly Southeast Asian feel. The filmmakers worked to keep that style, in the scenery, the music, the set design, and, most importantly, by keeping the Cambodian journalist front-and-center in most scenes. In fact, the only time the film doesn't work is when it focuses on the New York Times reporter (the main reason I give this film a 9 instead of a 10 are the pace-stealing scenes stateside). Far too often we only see such stories from our own viewpoint, it's incredibly refreshing (and bold) to film a story like this from the viewpoint of the foreign country whose ruin was precipitated by the careless policies of our own government.

Wonderfully filmed, well acted, brilliantly scripted, The Killing Fields is a timeless, important classic. A must see for any student of history or film.

9 out of 10 Barky


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