The Khmer Rouge slaughtered nearly two million people in the late 1970s. Yet the Killing Fields of Cambodia remain unexplained. Until now. Enter Thet Sambath, an unassuming, yet cunning, ... See full summary »
In Cambodian refugee camps, when children are asked where rice comes from, they answer, "from UN lorries". They have never seen a rice field. One day, these children will have to learn to ... See full summary »
In Rithy Panh's latest exploration of the lasting effects of the Cambodian genocide, a 13-year-old boy who loses most of his family begins a search for their graves.Cambodian-born, ... See full summary »
Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime caused the death of some 1.8 million people, representing one-quarter of the population of Cambodia. Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, was ... See full summary »
After the end of the Cambodian Civil War, people in Cambodia struggled in their return to their normal lives. Among them is a kick boxer Savannah (Narith Roeun). A survivor of the war, who ... See full summary »
Between 1975 and 1979, the communist inspired Khmer Rouge waged a campaign of terror and mass murder on Cambodia's population. Up to 1.7 mill. Cambodians lost their lives to famine, hard labor and murder as the urban population was forced into the countryside to fulfill the Khmer Rouge's dream of an agrarian utopia. In the former Security Prison 21 (code-named "S21"), which was once a high school and is today the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, director Rithy Panh brings two of the few survivors back to discuss what happened there between 1975 and 1979. Painter Vann Nath survived by chance and didn't suffer the same fate as 17,000 other men, women and children who were taken there, tortured and their so-called 'crimes' meticulously documented to justify their execution. The ex-Khmer Rouge guards respond to Nath's questions 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 ...Written by
Sujit R. Varma
For me, there are other films that deal with the full atrocities of the Khmer Rouge I would have watched one of them. Instead I wished to view the first hand accounts of guards and survivors, and this is what the film gave me.
It doesn't make this a good or bad film on this basis alone, I'm simply explaining on the criteria which I'm judging it.
Bringing together 2 of the 3 surviving prisoners, a few guards, and a doctor from the death factory of S21 to show one of several face to face encounters they have shared, we get the chance to have a front row seat to what they experienced. There were several mentions of these gatherings, plural, that it is clear this is not something the filmmaker took upon himself for the sake of the audience.
We hear of the punishments, the torture, and most upsetting to me the fact the they were coerced and beaten, sometimes treated medically so they would survive the torture until they would give a confession. Yet all admit the confessions were for the simple reason the prisoners were executed. This sent shivers down my spine.
The beginning scene to me was like a scene in a modern motion picture: it frames how we will view the rest of the footage. It succeeded very well on this extent.
I marked this film slightly lower than perfect for two reasons. The first is that there was no outside footage, except for a Kampuchea Loyalty song. Since this was the only outside influence I recall, it threw me out of the context when it played. Second a few scenes would have been handled better in a longer, slightly shorter single scene. The two separate daytime examples one guard gave of his behavior to called prisoners would have really benefited from this treatment. It also would have allowed the single nighttime example this guard gave of his treatments to these walking-dead men and women an added punch.
Overall, still an excellent film, as was Shoah which took the same technique. Don't expect a primer on the Khmer Roige, there are plenty of good ones around.
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