Enemies of the People - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Enemies of the People Reviews

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October 20, 2015
A very powerful film, this is one of those films that keeps in your mind for days, trying to digest what you have seen and heard in this film. I am 54 and I have been around and seen things in my years, but it still shocks me to see what man kind can do to each other, its one crazy world we live in, and you wonder why I do believe there is no GOD out there. A must see film, very ,very good.
April 28, 2013
Personal, in depth and up front disclosure of some of the most terrofying events in Cambodias recent history brought to viewers by Thet Sambath. Excellent insight into the minds behind the Killing Fields of Cambodia.
February 21, 2012
Is it another hollywood movie capitalizing on past sufferings?
February 15, 2012
Shocking, striking, extraordinary documentary. A must see.
½ January 26, 2012
Excellent film, heart-wrenching documentary
November 11, 2011
It is a dedicating work of someone who has a personal link to the stories he tries to uncover. We have to thank Thet Sambath for trying to give us more understanding of what happened in one of the most tragic events of humanity. Another thing to be praised for is that the film is not boring at all and I felt like I was a part of the mission in searching for truth.
July 29, 2011
Surreal. Cathartic. Extraordinary.
May 27, 2011
Historical documentary about Khmer Rouge "Enemies of the People" is absolutely powerful, yet highly corrosive and intense.
May 21, 2011
I'm glad I paid to watch this film, deeply moving and sad. The killers are haunted by what they did but must have held back in the other ways they killed their innocent victims. Is a very important document that should be viewed by everyone.
May 19, 2011
One of the most powerful, shocking and insightful documentaries ever made.

"Enemies of the People" is a documentary that covers the lives of members of the Khmer Rouge after the genocide in Cambodia during the late 1970's and early 80's. The documentary aims to dig deep within the members and to get them to admit to what they have done and how they are living with it in the present.

After nearly 10 years in the making, the documentary is the first and, currently, only film from director Thet Sambath. Sambath was motivated to investigate the reasons and the truth behind the killings as he had been affected by the genocide, by losing both his parents and his brother. The documentary follows him on his amazing journey to discover the answers that he seeks.

"Enemies of the People" is a documentary that will shock the audience due to the fact that the information displayed on screen in the documentary is jaw dropping and vivid. On top of the fact that every word of what is described about the past is completely true. The movie provides a shrewd and unbiased viewpoint allowing for the audience to be engaged throughout the movie and see that the interviewees are just as regular people as the audience.

Sambath acquaints himself with his the members of the Khmer Rouge first before inquiring about the past and why the committed the actions that ended the lives of many. Through this process the audience gets to witness another side of the killer and gets to hear what they have to say and feel, providing a powerful experience that no other documentary can come close to replicating.

"Enemies of the People" is not a movie for all audiences as the material throughout the film is very strong and may be a bit much for some to handle. The film is definitely a triumph in modern journalism as Sambath fearlessly delves into the minds of the murderers and reveals them to be normal people that are ashamed of what they have done.

"Enemies of the People" is one of the most powerful, shocking and insightful documentaries ever made and will be revered as a marvel of documentaries to come. The movie is an absolute must see as it will stun and leave viewers in awe as to how truly magnificant the content displayed is and as to how brilliantly the movie is crafted.
½ February 10, 2011
Chilling insight into the logic and actions of the Khmer Rouge killers responsible for the killing fields. Pol Pot's henchman tells his story, and rank and file killers explain how and why they killed so many night after night.
January 20, 2011
Enemy of the people

It was the same everywhere I went in Cambodia, people willing to tell of the past with only the slightest prompting. There was my driver in Phnom Penn, who pointed out one of the killing fields, bones showing on the surface, a place not visited by tourists, one of the many charnel houses in a country turned into a charnel house. In Siem Reap another driver, the son of a doctor, told me that throughout the time of the Khmer Rouge his father had to pretend to have been a baker. For virtually the first thing they did was kill all the doctors.

Last September I made reference to Enemies of the People (To be good was to be dead), a documentary made by Thet Sambath, a Cambodian journalist, in collaboration with Rob Lemkin, a British documentarian. Then I had only seen it in part; now I have seen it in whole, in a limited screening in this country. It's a tremendous piece of work, one that he built up over a number of years, all at his own expense, in money and in emotional effort.

It's also a work of great patience. In looking for answers to the question why, why so many deaths, why so much suffering, over a period of years he steadily gained the confidence of Noun Chea, known as Brother Number Two alongside Pol Pot, Brother Number One. Even the nomenclature is as sinister as the mirthless grins.

This a documentary which also serves as a personal odyssey; for Sambath lost his family in the Killing Fields, a fact he conceals from his interlocutor until the very end. Yet despite this there is not a trace of bitterness or accusation in the film, merely a sense of patient bewilderment.

Oddly enough the interviews with Khoun and Soun, now elderly men, two of those who carried out the killings on Chea's behalf - he is thought to have been personally responsible for as many as 14,000 deaths - are oddly poignant. These are not SS or Gulag guards; no, they are simple peasant farmers. Khoun, firm in his Buddhist convictions, said that it will be many lifetimes before he returns to human form, all on account of his crimes, the terrible burden he carries. It is terrible. On the film-makers urging he was persuaded to demonstrate how he killed, using a plastic knife on a nervous fellow villager. "I slit so many throats", he said in the process, "that my hand ached, so I switched to stabbing in the neck."

These killings were always carried out at night, by the light of flaming torches, while nearby stood the children of the victims, their mouths covered to stop them screaming. Both Khoun and Soun recalled that they subsequently removed the gall bladders of the dead, drinking the bitter bile in the belief that this would protect their skins. A woman remembered the water-logged fields, bubbles rising as if boiling when the bodies decomposed. Another still refuses to drink the local water because of the bodies buried all those years ago.

Meanwhile the principle interview with Chea proceeds. At one point he meets Khoun and Soun, saying that they are not to blame, for they had no intent, and that Democratic Kampuchea was a 'clean regime'. The dead are still the enemies of the people, though one has to wonder who exactly 'the people' are if not the dead. But, as I said before, when Sambath finally reveals the fate of his family - he had hitherto pretended that his mother and father had died in the 1980s - Chea slips from monstrous abstraction to genuine human sympathy.

Brother Number Two is now in detention, awaiting trial for crimes against humanity, crimes against the people. Enemies of the People is a compelling documentary, a small journey into the heart of darkness.
September 25, 2010
What we watch is a gradual process of trust-gaining: Sambath sits down with these men, eats with them, assures them they're unlikely to face prosecution while their commanders walk free, slowly working his way along the Khmer chain of organisation. He retrieves extraordinary detail: two killers discuss how they supped on human gall bladders in order to cool their own flesh amid the hot work of killing - literally making themselves cold-blooded. When Sambath asks one of the pair to demonstrate on him precisely how he used to slit his victims' throats, the man speaks (much as, say, a tennis player or cricketer might) of how he favoured one particular grip because he found the alternatives uncomfortable: "I slit so many throats my hand hurt." In places, Sambeth's story gets in the way of the bigger picture - there are framebreaking retreats to the journalist's editing suite, when the material might have been more powerfully presented as filmed - and a little repetition creeps in towards the end, but otherwise this is a superior example of the documentary as collated testimony: a manner of gathering together crucial oral history before its subjects pass on - or, alternatively, for said subjects to get something off their chest and make peace with the past.
September 23, 2010
extremely powerful. my there be understanding of our pain too
August 11, 2010
Devastating. To call this movie "important" would be a monumental understatement. Words cannot properly do justice to this cinematic achievement. It's on a level very few films are on. This is why movies are made.
August 6, 2010
? "aquilo mesmo": a humanidade perdeu a noção de humanidade.
March 27, 2010
Really depressing Cambodian documentary on the killing fields of the late 70s. Includes an interview with a guy who slit so many throats he was developing problems with his carpal tunnel. Stunning.
February 28, 2010
Doesn't build tension as well as some documentaries, but there's no denying this is a powerful story.
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