The Killing Fields

D: Roland Joffé
Goldcrest/Enigma (David Puttnam)
UK 1984
141 mins


W: Bruce Robinson [based on the article "The Death & Life Of Dith Pran" by Sydney Schanberg]
DP: Chris Menges
Ed: Jim Clark
Mus: Mike Oldfield
PD: Roy Walker

Sam Waterston (Sydney Schanberg), Haing S. Ngor (Dith Pran), John Malkovich (Al Rockoff), Julian Sands (Jon Swain), Craig T. Nelson (Military Attache), Spalding Gray (US Consul)

Not all films released during the 1980's were cheesy action flicks or teen comedies. In fact, the decade saw plenty of harrowing and dramatic war dramas with a political edge. The Killing Fields is a testament to that.
It isn't an entertaining film by any means, instead, a truly powerful piece of cinematic viewing. 
Set in Cambodia during tyrant Pol Pot's barbaric Year One regime, when all the "undesirable" Cambodian citizens were executed by the Khmer Rouge, war reporter Sidney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) and his interpreter Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor) are separated during conflict and Pran is left behind enemy lines and struggles for his survival.
Based on a true story, the film won 3 Oscars, including Best Supporting Actor for Ngor, only the second non-professional to win the award (he was actually a doctor in his native Cambodia).
The film was also honoured as the best of 1984 at the British Academy Awards (Baftas).

Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields
Haing S. Ngor in The Killing Fields