S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine (2004)

S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The brutality of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime is documented in Rithy Panh's documentary, S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine. S21 was a notorious detention center, an abandoned suburban schoolhouse used by the Angkor (the Communist Party organization) for the imprisonment and torture of thousands of innocent citizens. Prisoners were tortured until they confessed to false crimes, and were also ordered to incriminate others. Of the approximately 17,000 prisoners who were interred there, about … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Documentary, Drama, Art House & International, Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By: Rithy Panh
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 24, 2005
First Run Features


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Critic Reviews for S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (10)

A haunting look at the historical amnesia that envelops countries or regimes after officially sanctioned barbarism.

Full Review… | July 15, 2004
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic

A modest but nonetheless devastating documentary.

Full Review… | June 11, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic

Cinema at its most intellectually honest and morally necessary.

Full Review… | June 11, 2004
Washington Post
Top Critic


June 5, 2004
New York Post
Top Critic

At a moment when issues of torture loom so large in our world, S21 testifies to the chilling ease with which ordinary men can cross the line into homicidal sadism.

Full Review… | May 20, 2004
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

Serves as a potent and necessary reminder of how easily war can defeat the humanity of the good and the well-intentioned.

Full Review… | May 19, 2004
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine

This is the first of 2 depressing documentaries I watched in a row.

As horrendously sad as this historic incident that is the subject of this movie is, it is sad to say that I thought it wasn?t very exciting. That doesn?t mean to say that subject isn?t interesting, just that the movie gets a little ?repetitive?. It is a unique opportunity to rehash the absurd genocide that occurred. People who were part of the killing machine are confronted by people who were the victims. But are the punishers also victims? That?s one of the things this doc puts forth, and probably the most compelling thing, but watch people repeat their actions and show that they were pretty much brainwashed doesn?t make for exciting movie watching.

Again, it is a brave accomplishment. It is a bold message about one of the worst things that can ever happen and did in modern times. I get it. And you can too by watching. The bad part is that it can be got even without really paying attention to the movie.

Lee B

Very haunting film about the murderous regime of the Khmer Rogue in Cambodia. Could have used a bit more cotxt and structure. I dont know a whole lot about the Khmer Rogue and its origins, but the film only spends about three minutes on that in the very beginning. Still, the interviews with the victims of torture and the guards that did it to them is intense.

Jon B

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