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The Killing Fields (1984)

Sam Waterston , Haing S. Ngor , Roland Joffé  |  R |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor, John Malkovich, Julian Sands, Craig T. Nelson
  • Directors: Roland Joffé
  • Writers: Bruce Robinson
  • Producers: David Puttnam, Iain Smith
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, HiFi Sound, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 27, 2001
  • Run Time: 141 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004RF82
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,227 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Killing Fields" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Waterston stars as New York Times reporter Schanberg, a journalist who covered the war in Cambodia. Ngor stars as Dith, the translator and aide, who is exiled to Cambodian labor camps where millions of others have died.
Genre: Feature Film-Drama
Rating: R
Release Date: 13-MAR-2001
Media Type: DVD

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
131 of 134 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
I saw this 1984 film when it first came out, but after reading
"River of Time" by the British journalist, Jon Swain, I knew
I had to see it again. This time, it had an even stronger impact on
me. The screenplay is based on the true story written by Sydney
Schanberg, a New York Times reporter in Cambodia who had to leave his
Cambodian friend and colleague Dith Pran behind when the Khmur Rogue
took over the country in 1975. Dith Pran is forced into a worker's
camp, where he endures unspeakable agonies until he finally
The movie won three well-deserved academy awards. One was
best for cinematography. I can understand why. Even though the movie
was shot in Thailand, the feeling of Indo-China and the area along the
Mekong display its great beauty as well as the countryside. Jon Swain
describes this in his book, but there is nothing like seeing it on the
screen. And then there are the killing fields themselves, with bones
and rotting corpses that Dith Pran discovers. Anyone who has ever
seen this film will never forget this scene.
The second award was
for film editing. That was a job of real artistry. It is always a
choice of what tiny segments of a scene to emphasize and the editors
got it exactly right. There was the terrified child holding her hands
over her ears to shut out the bombing sounds. There was the tiny
vegetable that Dith Pran plucks off a plant with relish when he is in
the prison camp. There is the wash of blood on the floor in the
hospital where people were dying.
Dr. Hang S. Ngor won an Oscar for
his role of Dith Pran, one of the few non-professional actors to ever
win an Oscar.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling look at a modern-day holocaust September 30, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Hands down, "The Killing Fields" is one of the most harrowing films I've ever seen...and also one of the most inspiring. It depicts the relationship between New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg (played by Sam Waterston) and his Cambodian interpreter Dith Pran (Portrayed by the late Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who won a Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his performance). The story is set in Cambodia during the mid 1970s, when the Khmer Rouge, under Pol Pot, overran the country and began one of the worst programs of systematic genocide in history. (It is estimated that over 3 million of Cambodia's 7 million people were executed by the Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979.) Pran saves Schanberg and several other Western reporters from execution by the Communists, but is forced to stay behind in Cambodia when his journalistic colleagues are evacuated. How Pran survives his ordeal in the Cambodian "Killing Fields," and makes his escape, is an inspiring testament to the strength of the human will and the bonds of friendship.
The movie is beautifully acted and filmed. Sam Waterston is appropriately caustic as the hard-boiled "New York Times" reporter, Sydney Schanberg. Haing S. Ngor brings a touching sensitivity and wonderful inscrutability to his role as Dith Pran. Director Roland Joffe masterfully captured the chaos of the last days in Cambodia before the Communist takeover, and the horror and oppression of the Khmer Rouge forced education camps.
"The Killing Fields" is not a movie for the faint-hearted. It has many bloody scenes of violence none of which are gratuitous, and the scenes depicting the killing fields are terrible in their realism and power.
Still, "The Killing Fields" is a powerful and thought-provoking film, and should not be missed.
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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Always get on the chopper! August 18, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This movie could be considered an "Epic". It is very good, especially the last couple minutes when Pran finally reaches safety & then is visited by his old journalist friend.

I took one star off because apparently the DVD version is not as long as the original. The original version showed a scene where the Vietnamese Army liberated the Khmer Rouge village right before Dith Pran makes his escape. This scene was missing & also some of the other scenes seemed shorter than they originally were. I would estimate that about 15 to 20 min. of film was chopped out of this version. I hate it when film studios do this. It's sacrilege!!!

Hopefully a Directors Cut is released so I can again see the film in it's full form.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
The insanity of Pol Pot and his regime, Hell on Earth!

I just watched "The Killing Fields" after almost two decades after I first saw it in the eighties and I cannot believe how intense and gripping this movie is to this very day. Of all the genocides in human history this one that took place in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 just after the Vietnam War is probably the worst in human history. This is not only because of the number of people who were killed or because of the torture and methods of extermination of the poor victims but because the communist Khmer Rouge, the very guys who were supposed to run the government were doing it to their own people. This was not some enemy indulging in hate crime. Coinciding with the US pullout of Vietnam, as the foreigners also leave, Cambodia celebrates happily welcoming their new military government but the initial revelry soon turns to a life threatening situation as the Khmer Rouge gradually start mobilizing their plans. The mass evacuation of all the people in the major cities to the fields begin. No one is spared, including bed ridden patients in hospitals. Simultaneously the killings begin. According to their screwed-up principles all educated people (even all those who were wearing spectacles were considered educated) foreigners, anyone related to the former government, the sick, the unhealthy were all to be exterminated and what follows is Cambodia's period of hell. Without any value for human life Cambodian citizens are butchered like animals. People are killed anywhere and everywhere without respite and their corpses abandoned without proper burial or funeral. Khmer Rouge's motto when it comes to human life - "if they survive no gain; if they die no loss".
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