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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Killing Fields: the best film ever on Cambodian Holocaust
David Puttnam, Roland Joffé, Chris Menges..... what a wonderful team whose individual creativity and collective synergy brought us two out-of-the-world pictures: "The Mission" & "The Killing Fields". Nothing to say about the former. Regarding the latter, the rich combination of such themes as ravages of war, power of friendship and unrequited loyalty makes it one...
Published on 8 May 2008 by Serkan Silahsor

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars An ok watch
Having recently visited The Killing Fields, this was a rather disappointing film. A sketchy view of the troubles, but good acting nonetheless.
Published 3 months ago by Jennifer Richards


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Killing Fields: the best film ever on Cambodian Holocaust, 8 May 2008
By 
David Puttnam, Roland Joffé, Chris Menges..... what a wonderful team whose individual creativity and collective synergy brought us two out-of-the-world pictures: "The Mission" & "The Killing Fields". Nothing to say about the former. Regarding the latter, the rich combination of such themes as ravages of war, power of friendship and unrequited loyalty makes it one of the powerful films in its genre and greatest films ever to have come out of the British cinema.

"The Killing Fields" takes us back to 1975s Phnom Penh, Cambodian capital, during which the communist guerrilla group Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot seized the city, formed a new government and forced the dwellers to move to the countryside to work in collective farms and labor camps with the goal of restarting of civilization in "Year Zero". During the next 4 years of their rule, these "policies" caused the death of ~ 3 million people (one third of the population) either from execution, torture, starvation, overwork, and disease. Under this apocalyptic environment, "The Killing Fields" tells the true ordeal and survival story of Cambodian photojournalist, Dith Pran, who endured the atrocities of Khmer Rouge regime: captured, tortured, punished for befriending American journalists and forced to work in labor camps in barbaric conditions.

To me, the most impressive thing about "The Killing Fields" is the ravishing cinematography by Academy Award winner Chris Menges. From start to end, The photography is nothing but gorgeous. All shots are meticulously planned, properly balanced and perfectly contrasted, harmonizing the beauty of countryside with ravages of war. The colors are well saturated and look wonderful. Subtle details are well presented, sharp and clearly visible with an emphasis on naturalism.

The outstanding cinematography and the gritty realism of the story was further enhanced by the taut direction of Roland Joffé, whose documentary-like precision contributes to the film's overall power. His battle footage and portrayal of atrocities are mostly documentary nature, but not presented with "cheap" bloodfest where unnecessary amount of blood and gore paint the screen. Let's not forget to mention the outstandingly realistic performance of first-time actor Haing S. Ngor, who deserves to win Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Watching John Malkovich, playing the hot-tempered American war photographer Al Rockoff, is particularly enjoyable.

To sum up, "The Killing Fields" is not just an essential film from historical standpoint of Cambodian Holocaust of 1975-1979, but it is also powerful in its visual and emotional moments in an otherwise hopeless and ruthless situation. (4.4/5.0)
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves the three oscars it received!, 5 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. B. L. Rodin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killing Fields [DVD] (DVD)
This film tells the true story of two journalists in Cambodia during the turmoil of 1970s Cambodia. One is the American Sydney Schanberg (played by Sam Waterston) and the other is the Cambodian Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor). As the Khmer Rouge approach the fall of capital Phnom Penh becomes imminent, the foreign embassies pack up and move out and the journalists are forced to take refuge in the French embassy. The Khmer Rouge have however demanded that all Cambodians in the embassy be turned over, and fearing attack, the occupants agree. Dith Pran is therefore in trouble. The foreign journalists come up with a plan...

The film is very well cast, with excellent acting and character depth as shown by Haing Ngor winning a well deserved oscar for best supporting actor. It is at times brutal, at others touching.

Highly Recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING!, 2 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Killing Fields [DVD] (DVD)
Calix Imperium, Roma Victrix Pewter wine beaker
This well researched and historically correct film is a sad tribute to all those who died in the horrific camps of the khmer rouge . Sam Waterston leading a great cast combined with good production values make this a must see. Highly recommended.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remakable testimount to a real life friendship, 1 Jan 2003
By 
This review is from: The Killing Fields [DVD] (DVD)
'Now is the year 0 and everything must start anew... I am full of fear Sydney, I must have no past, this is the year 0 and nothing has gone before'
These are the words spoken by Dith Pran as images of the unspeakable horrors of the Cambodian revolution fill the screen. The Killing Fields is a film that leaves a lasting emotional impression.
It portrays the real life friendship between NY Times correspondent Sydney Schomberg (Sam Waterson) and his Cambodian interpreter Dith Pran (Haing Ngor). The film depicts events stretching over a seven-year period, from the 1973 American bombing of Neak Luang village, to the Khmer Rouge takeover in 1975, and their eventual fall following the 1978 Vietnamese invasion. With such a difficult and disturbing subject matter and a complex timeframe the film could easily have floundered. Instead it succeeds because it filters these events through the eyes of two men, which bestows it with a real interpretive power.
It is superficially similar to Salvador directed by Oliver Stone. Both films critique the negative consequences of American military involvement in poor war-torn countries by depicting the work of journalists. However, inspite of the fact that the guilt of Schomberg at leaving his friend to suffer in Cambodia is intended to mirror the wider American involvement and subsequent neglect of that country (portrayed in one powerful scene), the content is never as bluntly political. It is very much more a personal account, and whilst the images shock, they are naturalistic in style and never as over-blown as in Salvador. The performances are very strong and full of integrity. Particularly moving is Ngor, whose Oscar winning portrayal of Dith Pran struggling to survive the brutality of the Khmer Rouge regime is drawn from his own personal experience as a survivor of the atrocities. This film draws attention to one of the most regrettable chapters in recent history, and that in itself is valuable. However, perhaps its most remarkable achievement is to demonstrate in an extremely moving account the resilience of the human spirit in the face of despair.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tribute to Haing S Nor, 2 Dec 2007
This review is from: The Killing Fields [DVD] (DVD)
A very touching film that recounts the excesses of the Khmer Rouge during the 1970's regime of Pol Pot. This is the most important film that recounts the instability of South Eastern Asia and is on a par with other classics such as Deer Hunter and Apocalpyse Now.
The scene where Dith Pran's photo disappears as he is about to leave Cambodia, leaves an indelible indication of his ensuing fate.
The performances all around superb without exception. Haing S. Ngor, who was tragically killed a few years ago, delivers a riveting, emotionally wrenching turn as the guide who is trapped in Cambodia and forced to fight for his life. He deservingly won the Oscar, though it's a shame he was snubbed for the best actor award. Inarguably, he's the film's central character and he also has more screen time than top-billed Sam Waterston. Despite my complaint on that matter, Waterston is also excellent as the journalist with a guilty conscience.

The Killing Fields is a suspenseful and exhilarating experience, a journey through an apocalyptic landscape that features one shocking image after another. Watch, and you'll see why the film is so acclaimed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still as strong as ever, 25 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Killing Fields [DVD] (DVD)
I first saw this movie when it came out, and am now revising it. Emotional and hard-hitting. Stays with you, but certainly one to watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent film, 16 Feb 2013
By 
S. Whittaker - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killing Fields [DVD] (DVD)
Very good film a must watch for anyone. Brilliantly acted and a true testament of the evils of war and dictators
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Powerful but ultimately a little too tasteful, 7 Jun 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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In the wake of a string of turkeys like Vatel, Fat Man and Little Boy, Super Mario Brothers and the infamous Demi Moore version of The Scarlet Letter, these days The Killing Fields increasingly looks like proof of the theory that anybody can make at least one good movie. Certainly Roland Joffe never made an entirely successful film afterwards, no matter how much money and talent were at his disposal. It's from that curious period when British cinema was taking on large-scale serious 'American foreign policy' stories that American cinema wouldn't touch (like The Deer Hunter, this was co-funded by EMI), in this case the Khmer Rouge atrocities in the wake of America's disastrous involvement in creating a 'sideshow war' in Cambodia. Unlike other white liberal angst fests like Cry Freedom it doesn't choose to concentrate on the white man's story at the expense of the pitiful foreign types - despite the oft-levelled criticism, it spends surprisingly little screen time with Sam Waterston's increasingly ineffectual journalist Sidney Schanberg after his return to New York, and even when it does, he doesn't get a free ride for putting his own ambitions ahead of his Cambodian translator's safety.

It's at its best depicting a country on the verge of collapse, and that curious stillness when life pretends to go on as normal in denial of the inevitable. Little in the film catches the atmosphere and still confusion, as well as the curious moral malaise of the war journalists, as the opening sequences, with sleepily disinterested inertia suddenly giving way to an energetic feeding frenzy to photograph the aftermath of a bombing attack. Curiously, once things start to get really bad it avoids the obvious and chooses not to demonise all the Khmer Rouge, emphasising their own divisions and confusions as one generation of freedom fighters find themselves victims for a more fanatical younger generation. Where it does fall down is in its good taste - at times the film just seems too squeamish, as if desperate to avoid alienating a mainstream audience by showing too much of the horror.

Unlike the disappointing early Polygram/Universal DVD release, Optimum's 2-disc set boasts a decent 1.85:1 transfer with a good selection of extras.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The story of all storys, 8 Dec 2002
This review is from: The Killing Fields [DVD] (DVD)
I was 22 when I first saw this film & I was glad that I saw it alone. I was living with my parents in a loving family in Renfrewshire, Scotland & although reasonably educated, was rather oblivious to the horrors that really went on in our worlds past. By the end of the film I was in tears as the story unfolded, but not in misery, just in the joy that after the failures of the military & politicians in america & cambodia, Sidney Schanberg kept on looking for his dear friend Dith Pran not knowing what might become of him. A film of endurance & of what might be, when the heart has the will to endure the fight ahead, even though the consequences may be great. I didn't realise until the end that this was a true story & it makes all the difference when you realise the struggle Dith Pran, a New York Times Photogropher & Cambodia itself went thru at the hands of the Khmer Rouge were to take, would have such a dramatic outcome. When the Red Cross are all that can save them, we are treated to a truly delightfull outcome to what was a terrible area of the worlds forgotten past. A past that the west has forgotten although the wake of it is still in our midst.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real lesson from history, 5 Mar 2007
By 
Sandra Gordon (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Killing Fields [DVD] (DVD)
This is a beautifully made, moving film depicting the harsh regime of the Khmer Rouge communist revolutionaries in 1970's Cambodia. The film focuses on the real-life relationship between Cambodian Dith Pran and American journalist Sidney Schanberg. The acting is superb, particularly from Dr. Haing S Ngor who played the part of Dith Pran and who did himself survive the Killing Fields.

In my opinion, it is necessary to have a background knowledge of the political events during this time (eg. the Cambodian government being overthrown by the Khmer Rouge and the subsequent evacuation of the cities) as without this, the film may be confusing in parts. However, this DVD does helpfully give the viewer the option to choose a brief historical recounting of the events of this time, and I would definitely recommend selecting this before watching the movie.
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The Killing Fields [DVD]
The Killing Fields [DVD] by Roland Joffé (DVD - 2001)
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