The Killing Fields

Released 1984


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Movie Summary

Roland Joffé

The Killing Fields is a 1984 history drama movie by director Roland Joffé, centering on the 1973 civil war between the Cambodian national army and the communist Khmer Rouge, as well as the gruesome Cambodian genocides that plagued that time. The Killing Fields tells the story of Dith Pran (Dr. Haing S. Ngor), a Cambodian journalist and interpreter for the New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston). Pran and Schanberg are in Cambodia to report the events of the war, but when they try to photograph the execution of two Khmer Rouge operatives by Cambodian army officers, they are arrested. Upon their release, the United States army arrives with the international press corps to report a cleaner version of the story. The two are unhappy about the international governments’ failure to allow the truth about the horrifying war to come out, but soon find that life can be very hard for those who get too involved and try too hard to bring light to dark subject matters. The Killing Fields received great critical acclaim, winning three 1985 Oscar Awards, as well as 23 other awards, and receiving nominations for 18 other awards.



Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    One of the risks taken by The Killing Fields is to cut loose from that tradition, to tell us a story that does not have a traditional Hollywood structure, and to trust that we'll f...

  • 100

    The Associated Press Bob Thomas

    A powerful, gut-wrenching film that ranks in the top of the 1984 product. [19 Nov 1984]

  • 88

    Miami Herald Bill Cosford

    Like Apocalypse Now, The Killing Fields tries to show the Southeast Asian war as a lethal spasm of recent history, wholly predictable but nonetheless quite unexpected, and all the ...

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Politics, Military & War