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The Killing Fields is a 1984, Academy Award winning movie based on the true story of an American journalist in Cambodia during the rise of the infamous Khmer Rouge.


Have you ever turned a blind eye to the uglier points of history? I know I have, and sometimes it is good to watch movies that help me realize I live a relatively cushy life which most other people in history would die (literally) to have. Here is a movie which helped open my eyes about some of the events in southeast Asia during the 1970’s. It’s not a “feel good” movie, but it does end on a relatively happy note and just may force you to acknowledge one of history’s black spots.


The Killing Fields

  • Starring: Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor and John Malkovich
  • Rated: R
  • Released: 1984
  • Genre: Drama, history, war
  • My Opinion: Excellent


Sydney Schanberg was an American correspondent for the New York Times, and in the 1970’s was reporting from Cambodia with the help of local interpreter Dith Pran. When the war in neighboring Vietnam spills over into Cambodia, Schanberg and Pran decide to stay and cover the change of power as the seemingly peaceful Cambodian communists, the Khmer Rouge, take over the capital of Phnom Penh. It isn’t long before the two men learn that the Khmer Rouge is nothing but a brutal totalitarian regime, and that their very lives are in danger if they don’t figure out a way to leave the country soon!


  • I am fascinated by recent events in world history – and by recent I mean ones that have taken place in my lifetime. This movie provides an utterly fascinating look at a recent dark period in southeast Asia. If you enjoy historical / political dramas then be sure to checkout The Killing Fields.
  • I do not like really violent movies, so I was kind of nervous about this one. Yes, there are some tense and gruesome scenes, but I felt like they did not detract from the overall story but rather illustrated some of the uglier points in history.
  • Sam Waterston’s acting was so-so but nothing stellar. Haing S. Ngor, on the other hand, was nothing short of brilliant. No wonder he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor his very first time on the big screen!.


  • You can rent The Killing Fields or watch it instantly at Netflix.
  • You can purchase The Killing Fields at Amazon.com.
  • There are plenty of good used copies available at eBay.
  • You can also watch The Killing Fields online via Amazon Instant Video.


  • If you liked The Killing Fields then you may also enjoy Empire of the Sun – about a young British boy living in China during World War II and his time in a Japanese internment camp.