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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Shows horrific impact of war and oppression on children. Reveals the harrowing experience of kids as they're trained to fight and hate. Conversely, demonstrates that the human spirit has the capacity to withstand cruelty and callousness without losing sight of basic goodness and love. Reminds that there are ongoing societies that continue to terrorize innocents.
Positive Role Models
Central character is called upon to rise above appalling mistreatment without losing heart. Survival is key. She exhibits courage, resourcefulness, determination, and loyalty, never losing sight of her devotion to family no matter what it costs. Parents are selfless, devoted, and willing to part with their children to save them. Khmer Rouge fighters are portrayed as heartless and evil.
Violence & Scariness
Pervasive suffering: death, grief, mistreatment. Armed troops invade a city. Multiple battle sequences: gunfire, bombs, mines, explosions. Innocents, including children, are beaten with fists, weapons, and in a few instances, killed. A leading sympathetic character is bludgeoned to death. Hospital scenes shows many suffering victims. Bodies fly, and are seen in a mass grave, on the battlefield, in villages, carried on carts. Sequences depict teens and children in intense battlefield training.
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Khmer Rouge members frequently and loudly taunt, demean, and terrify civilian populations, in many instances directing their ire at kids. One use of "bastards."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers is the true story of Loung Ung, an American human rights activist. Adapted from her book, the film tells the story of her childhood, when Cambodia's capital city of Phnom Penh was invaded in 1975 by the Khmer Rouge, a brutal communist regime. All the more powerful because it's based on fact and because the events are seen only through Loung's young eyes, the film has disturbing, sad, and even horrifying moments. Though writer/director Angelina Jolie is judicious in her depiction of the violence, audiences will see beatings; deaths by gunfire, explosions, and fire; armed battles; and, foremost, children in peril and victims of mistreatment. Bodies pile up, loved ones die, and grief is palpable. Made in Cambodia, with English subtitles, this gripping drama is an important reminder that cruelty and extreme ideologies still drive whole cultures from their homes in fear for their lives. But it also has strong themes of courage, empathy, perseverance, and self-control. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This artful depiction of the brutality visited upon the Cambodian people by the Khmer Rouge is even more affecting because it's seen only through the eyes and heart of a 7-year-old girl. Filmmaker Angelina Jolie, noted for her personal commitment to children around the globe, has found the perfect vehicle for that commitment, and Sareum Srey Moch is stunning as Loung. Like its predecessors, Empire of the Sun and Beasts of No Nation, the film tells a war story by showing a child's fear, grief, and ultimate resilience. Jolie is careful to keep moments of extreme violence to a minimum. What Loung sees, the audience sees, and it's enough. If bearing witness is a reason for movies to exist, First They Killed My Father has strong purpose. Recommended for mature teens.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.