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Parents' Guide to

The Killing Fields

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Intense, violent movie about brutal Cambodian regime.

Movie R 1984 142 minutes
The Killing Fields Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 1 parent review

age 15+

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

This is a tension-filled, fast-paced movie about a difficult and bloody time in American and Southeast Asian history. Based on Schanberg and Pran's actual experiences covering the genocidal Khmer Rouge rule in Cambodia, The Killing Fields brings the audience into those terrible times convincingly.

Haing S. Nor, a Cambodian doctor, plays Dith Pran with astonishing focus and intensity. It feels as if Pran is playing himself. Waterston does a great job portraying a man so interested in getting the story that he seems to miss the humanity and suffering of the victims he sees. In one scene back in New York, Schanberg watches a tape of bad deeds in Cambodia and seems more moved by the tape than by seeing the actual atrocities he personally witnessed when he was covering the war. It's to the movie's credit that Schanberg doesn't come off as a hero here. He is often condescending and impatient. His arrogance and single-minded pursuit of stories makes him a great reporter but not much of a human being. He knows he should have insisted Pran leave Cambodia when it was safe to go, but it suited Schanberg better to keep his indispensable translator with him, so he didn't press his friend and colleague to save himself when it was possible. Add to that the fact that Pran had a wife and children and Schanberg had no one and, between the lines, you can discern a true portrait of good character as opposed to one of bluster and bravado.

Movie Details

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