The Killing Fields (1984)


Inspired by my friend’s parents to watch this, I wanted to learn more about the history of Cambodia.  After watching it, I think I should have learned more about the history of Cambodia before watching the movie.  I don’t believe the filmmakers did a very good job of making the film fully intelligible to a broad audience.  For many like myself, the film merely evokes feelings similar to that of Schindler’s List, where without adequate historical background, you are merely baffled and confused by the horrors of war, while at the same time being inspired by the bravery of those who had to face it firsthand.  But the Holocaust is a much more well-known historical event, whereas the Killing Fields of Cambodia are far lesser-known.

Perhaps the goal of the film was not exactly to acquaint many people with the details of Cambodian history; perhaps it was filmed with the intention of evoking those feelings within a plight of confusion.  Watching the film, I felt that many of the people who lived through it may have felt the same way, without any understanding of what was really happening and why it was happening to them.  They only perceived that foreign countries were dropping bombs on them for unknown reasons, and a group of their own citizens was murdering their own kind in mass numbers, sometimes for being too intelligent, and other times just for speaking up.  Why this was happening seemed to be a big mystery.  It seem very possible that the ignorant viewer (like myself)  and the average Cambodian in 1975 shared similar feelings.  It is indeed troubling to find those nearest and dearest to you being killed without just cause or reason.

This is what happens in real life. I guess for most Cambodians there is no hope of a Rambo type character, or even a Sydney, to come and help them if they are doomed to the killing fields.  They can only bide their time and hope for an opportunity to escape.  A touching tale about Dith Pran, but I felt there was just too much jumping around from scene to scene, particularly in the beginning, without a relatively clear interpretation of what was happening.  Thus, the entire movie felt very rushed for the sake of fitting the entire story inside of a little over two hours.  I think the producers could have compiled this film in a more creative manner so that more audiences could gain insight into Cambodia’s situation during 1975-1979 as well as follow the inspirational journey of Dith Pran.


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