The Killing Fields (1984) Poster


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  • They were the vast open spaces of swamp and plains where millions of Cambodians were taken to be executed under the regime of Cambodia's then dictator, Pol Pot. Pot's regime, the Khmer Rouge, ran thousands of "re-education" camps throughout the Cambodian countryside where citizens were taken to be indoctrinated with the belief system of the new government. As a result, millions of innocent people, many of them intelligent and intellectual, even if they accepted the new regime, were killed by the child armies of Pot's forces. Their bodies were left to rot, depicted in the scene where Pran sees them while trying to escape. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Small plastic bags were used to kill those people. Instead of using bullets or another method of execution, the Khmer Rouge used the bags to asphyxiate the victims, which were a way to kill someone cheaply and quietly. There's a scene in the rice field where a guy near Pran is being taken away by a little girl. You will briefly see her placing a plastic bag over the victim's head. Director Roland Joffe talks about it in the audio commentary on DVD & blu-ray. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Pran was an intelligent and educated member of the Cambodian middle class who was also fluent in both French and English. The Khmer Rouge, in their forceful attempts to seize power in Cambodia, saw all intelligent, intellectual people as a threat to their new order. Intellectuals have long been at the forefront of any opposition to totalitarian government - think of the Jews that were exterminated by the Nazis. If the Rouge discovered that Pran had the potential to be among the opposition, they'd have him killed immediately. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The children of the Pol Pot regime were so very highly valued because they would be the future leaders of Cambodia. They were recruited (or stolen from their parents, who were subsequently murdered) because their minds were not, at least in the view of the Rouge, corrupted by the knowledge that comes with adulthood. Therefore, they made excellent subjects to be indoctrinated from an early age with the teachings of the Khmer regime. There's a brief scene of a young kid who desecrates a chalkboard image of a family. Under the Rouge, families were not allowed to exist, all education and upbringing were to be done by the Rouge leadership. Essentially, the Rouge and Pol Pot wanted a nation of citizens who would follow orders unquestioningly and be free of individual thought that could prove dangerous to the new order. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Yes, Neak Leung is a real place about 38 miles southeast of the capital, Phnom Pehn, and it was actually bombed by American forces in August 1973. In the opening of the film, Sid Schanberg complains about his plane being delayed in Bangkok (the capital of neighboring Thailand). His suspicion is that the Army delayed his plane deliberately to keep him from investigating the bombing before there was a chance to secure the area. More info about the village and the bombing can be read here. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • People worked more than 8 hours a day and must meet the requirement 3 tons of rice per hectare. However, the food they got was water-porridge (if you are lucky enough you will find 3 or 4 rice in your porridge).Therefore most of the slave labor under the Rouge were left to starve. In order to survive they must eat anything they could find. You can also see the scene where Pran caught the lizard and put in his pocket (he will eat it after the announcement).

    The effect seen in the film was done by placing large leather collars over the necks of the cows. Inside the collars were sacs that held bags of fake blood. When Ngor sliced thru the leather he'd pierce the sac & the fake blood would flow. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The real Dith Pran survived the Cambodian Genocide but later divorced his wife and died of cancer in 2008. He authored a number of books recounting the harrowing ordeal. Sydney Schanberg authored books as well, remained a friend of Dith Pran, but died in 2016 of a heart attack. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • In the film, Sydney's cameraman, Al Rockoff, confronts him in the bathroom believing that Sydney knew of the dangers of not evacuating Pran before the Genocide, and also believing that Sydney kept Pran with him on purpose because he wanted to stay and cover the story in order to enhance his reporting reputation. Later on, while visiting Pran's wife in her apartment, Sydney confesses that he never really got into a serious discussion with Pran about leaving the country despite evacuating his family, and that he really did want a journalism award, but that he never anticipated Pran actually being harmed whilst remaining in Cambodia. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • Details are sketchy at best but the first camp is believed to have been about 20 miles from the northwestern Cambodian city of Siem Rep. After Pran escapes the 1st time, he is recaptured & moved to a village named Bat Dangkor. When he makes his final escape, he crosses the Dângrêk Mountains and finds the Red Cross refugee camp in Thailand.

    The details of Pran's imprisonment and escape are largely simplified for the film however the story remains the same: Pran escapes a 2nd time and walks across country (in real life for about 2 months) and is able to find freedom in 1979 after 4 years of detention. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • It is heavily implied that these two people are married colleagues, and though the French woman will be sent back to his native country, the man is Cambodian and will therefore be sent with the other Cambodians to the Killing Fields, where he will likely be executed by the Khmer Rouge. We also get disturbing things going on in the background of the French Embassy scene such as a half-Cambodian baby being forcibly taken from its father. Edit (Coming Soon)

  • The gist of that was that Pran and Sydney gave a Mercedes Benz solid silver automobile emblem to a young Khmer Rouge soldier, so he could trade it in for the protection of his own life. Later on in the film, Pran is caught sneaking around by the Khmer Rouge and is nearly killed, but his life is spared by one, who happens to be the Mercedes Benz soldier, trying to return the favour. Edit (Coming Soon)


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