The Killing Fields

The real-life story of a friendship between two journalists, an American and a Cambodian, during the bloody Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia in 1975, which led to the death of 2-3 million Cambodians during the next four years, until Pol Pot’s regime was toppled by the intervening Vietnamese in 1979.

Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Sydney Schanberg: Sam Waterston
  • Dith Pran: Haing S. Ngor
  • Major Reeves, Military Attache: Craig T. Nelson
  • Alan ‘Al’ Rockoff, Photographer: John Malkovich
  • Dr. Sundesval: Athol Fugard
  • Jon Swain: Julian Sands
  • United States consul: Spalding Gray
  • Dr. MacEntire: Bill Paterson
  • Dougal: Graham Kennedy
  • Ser Moeum: Dith Pran’s wife: Katherine Krapum Chey
  • Titony: Dith Pran’s son: Oliver Pierpaoli
  • Sarun, Sydney’s Driver: Edward Entero Chey
  • U.S. Military Advisor: Tom Bird
  • Phat: Khmer Rouge leader: 2nd village: Monirak Sisowath
  • Phat’s Son: Lambool Dtangpaibool
  • Ambassador Wade: Ira Wheeler
  • France: David Henry
  • Morgan: Patrick Malahide
  • Beth: Nell Campbell
  • TV Interviewer: Joan Harris
  • Schanberg’s Sister: Joanna Merlin
  • Schanberg’s Father: Jay Barney
  • Noaks: Mark Long
  • Mrs. Noaks: Sayo Inaba
  • Sirik Matak: Mow Leng
  • Arresting Officer: Chinsaure Sa
  • K.R. Cadre – First Village: Hout Ming Tran
  • Sahn: Thach Suon
  • Rosa: Neevy Pal

Film Crew:

  • Associate Producer: Iain Smith
  • Casting: Juliet Taylor
  • Casting: Susie Figgis
  • Casting: Marion Dougherty
  • Production Design: Roy Walker
  • Art Direction: Roger Murray-Leach
  • Director: Roland Joffé
  • Screenplay: Bruce Robinson
  • Producer: David Puttnam
  • Original Music Composer: Mike Oldfield
  • Director of Photography: Chris Menges
  • Editor: Jim Clark
  • Casting: Pat Golden
  • Art Direction: Steve Spence
  • Costume Design: Judy Moorcroft
  • Still Photographer: David Appleby
  • Video Assist Operator: Judy Freeman

Movie Reviews:

  • CinemaSerf: Sam Waterston is New York Times journalist Sydney Schanberg on post in Cambodia as the civil war comes to it’s violent, cruel conclusion. Working with local journalist Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor) they report on the rapidly deteriorating situation. When the American forces evacuate, Pran manages to get his family to safety but he can’t leave himself and so Schanberg dedicates himself to the task of extricating his friend from the clutches of the brutal Pol Pot regime in the course of which he discovers just how extensive the “Year Zero” campaign that killed hundreds of thousands of the largely peaceful, agrarian population is. Roland Joffé has never made a better film; the poignancy with which he elicits loyalty and affection from the two principals, whilst at the same time pushing home the true horrors of the behaviour of the new government makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up- even now, 35 years later. The visions of skull strewn paddy fields coupled with a splendidly evocative score from Mike Oldfield really do hit home. The dialogue very much takes second place to that imagery; our eyes and ears do much of their own work with a sensitive, but really quite minimal guide from Bruce Robinson’s screenplay. That’s not a criticism; it’s precisely nuanced to allow the story to breathe and develop in a truly engrossing manner that made me want to follow up. As an aside, having been to Cambodia in 2019, it is astonishing how this nation has healed after such a ghastly period in it’s history, and I wonder how much that reconciliation had to do with the depiction in this film of just how horrific war can be.
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