The Killing Fields - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Killing Fields Reviews

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½ January 20, 2017
This is a real testament to the power of film. After spending some time in Cambodia, I attempted to watch this movie at the age of 25. Couldn't do it, as it brought back to many memories of being told the stories and seeing the aftermath of the genocide. I finally turned it on at 29 and had one of the most complex reactions to a film I have ever had. A truly special film. Joffe was a genius for creating this and The Mission alone.
January 8, 2017
The the rise horrific regime of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the mid-late 1970s is told in this moving film about the friendship of journalist Sidney Schanberg and his Cambodian interpreter, Dith Pran. The pair were caught up in the chaos of Phnom Penh as the Americans and then French pulled out of the city and Pran was forced to stay behind and try as best he could to survive the madness of the revolution. There's a real sense of the panic and trauma the population of the country underwent. This is perhaps most vividly shown on the screen as the Khmer soldiers enter the city and force the civilians to evacuate. The movie doesn't flinch from showing some of the atrocities Cambodia endured at the hands of both the US with their bombings and the Khmer militants. The casual shootings and beatings, sometimes by family members, the way in which people were suffocated by having plastic bags put over their heads and the mass graves in which bodies are dumped are all portrayed but in a manner that feels shocking and moving rather than gratuitous. This was an awful and shameful piece of human history which the movie captures well. Sam Waterston, John Malkovich and Julian Sands play the chief Western characters but the movie is held together by Dr. Haing S. Ngor, himself a survivor of the genocide, who really holds the movie together. His portrayal of Sith Pran is extraordinary and he rightly won an Oscar for his role in this magnificent film from director Roland Joffé. An unusual score by Mike Oldfield adds perfectly to the sense of confusion and terror during the evacuation of Phnom Penh and takes on a more measured and sympathetic tone during the quieter scenes. The Killing Fields stands as a demonstration of how the human spirit and friendship can at times overcome terrible adversity and despite the harrowing nature of the subject matter, this is ultimately an uplifting story.
½ November 13, 2016
A group of journalists are caught up in a warzone, there one big contributer is unable to get safe, ends up in slavery under young revolutionists. While one of the other journalists are getting world-wide recognition for his work. A painful and emotional time through fire, death and the unknown.
½ October 21, 2016
Very impressive. A film that unapologetically has a definite, passionate and sympathetic tone, without descending into too much sentimentality. The sentimentality there is, is needed, I think, to prevent it being unwatchable, since it is dealing with a very emotive and disturbing subject.
½ October 12, 2016
Grim story of a New York Times reporter's guide in Cambodia who spends four years labouring in the killing fields after the Khmer Rouge overtake the capital. He was one of the lucky ones. Great history lesson. Hard to believe this happened in my lifetime.
½ October 1, 2016
Destruction and violence shown from the point of view of a journalist covering the state of the war-torn country in which it's set.
July 20, 2016
Telling an important historical story.
Super Reviewer
July 18, 2016
With the film's gut-wrenching first half devoted to depicting with gritty realism and a beautiful cinematography the takeover of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, the second half relies on Ngor's superb performance to show a man in an amazing struggle to escape from hell.
Super Reviewer
½ June 25, 2016
A harrowing tale ruined only by Oldfield's synth score.
½ May 11, 2016
Interesting true story of friendship and survival, set against the backdrop of one of history's most oppressive regimes.

Set against the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia in the 1970s, the true story of New York Times journalist Sydney Schanberg (played by Sam Waterston) and his Cambodian interpreter Dith Pran (Haing S Ngor). They are there in 1973 when Cambodia is a side-theatre of the Vietnam conflict. At this time the Khmer Rouge are on the rise but not a major threat. Then we jump forward to 1975 and the Khmer Rouge have the upper hand and are about to take control of the country. The US, and other countries, are evacuating personnel. Though both of them have an opportunity to leave too, Schanberg and Dith Pran decide to stay to cover what happens next. This will ultimately put Dith Pran's life in grave danger as the Khmer Rouge's reign over Cambodia was one of oppression and genocide.

Interesting, though a bit dry. The movie starts very slowly and takes a very long time to find a second gear. Even when things do start to fall into place and you get to understand where the story is going, things still don't really move at more than a moderate pace.

However, the last 40 minutes or so more than make up for this. We see the extent of the Khmer Rouge's oppression and atrocities, and the movie becomes a powerful, tense story of resourcefulness and survival. Great, emotional ending.

Solid work by Sam Waterston as Sydney Schanberg. Haing S Ngor, a Cambodian doctor and refugee with no previous acting experience, gives a great performance as Dith Pran and well deserved his Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

The cast also includes John Malkovich (in only his second feature film), Julian Sands (third feature film) and Craig T Nelson, all of which give fine performances.
May 6, 2016
84%
Saw this on 6/5/16
The thrilling BGM always ensures that the viewer is glued to the screen and in its first half, it tells the shocking realism of war with fine cinematography and set pieces. In the second half, its about survival. The film may not always connect emotionally the way you want it to.
April 14, 2016
The best movie made on any genre ever ? Yes it has all the ingredients to be in helm !
March 27, 2016
An interesting movie that will reach out to many movie watchers in one aspect or another. Great for discussion.
½ February 14, 2016
Good movie and story
½ January 10, 2016
A compelling human story.
September 16, 2015
Short of being a documentary it tells of a true story of a reporter feelings of deserting his friend in Nam when America pulls out in a hurry and leaves a true patriot behind. Really loved the story of the hardships the young man endured.
August 23, 2015
This film made me so angry. Men with their weapons who think that they rule the world. The parallels between Asia 50 years ago and the Middle East were obvious. When will the love of power be less important than the love of humanity?
July 11, 2015
Unflinchingly gut-wrenching and spine-chilling, this war drama about a band of journalists covering the story of Cambodia falling prey to the terrifying reign of Khmer Rouge is unsettling to watch and lingers long in our memories like a ghost.
June 14, 2015
There's something terribly smug about a film which tells the story of genocide and tyranny through a Western perspective. More oppressive than the film's politically motivated self-seriousness is its white liberal guilt. In telling the story of Pol Pot's regime through the eyes of an American reporter, director Roland Jaffe has fashioned a narrative that is as dishonest as it is cursory. The factors driving the Khmer Rouge takeover are entirely grazed over, and the images of warfare and desolation feel like photos in a TIME magazine--exotic suffering as filtered through a Western lens. The over-indulgent score is a symphony of synthesized cacophony which tells the audience how to feel (unsuccessfully) instead of letting them feel for themselves. At once fragmented and overly manipulative, The Killing Fields tells the story of Pol Pot's totalitarian regime as you would read about it in the New York Times while sipping a cup of coffee.
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