The Killing Fields is an undeniably powerful story of Communist brutality and the human will to survive. For having never acted before, Dr. Haing S. Ngor does an incredible job as the persistent Dith Pran, and his Oscar-winning role is the main draw for a movie that puts a spotlight on a sad time in history.
I could compare The Killing Fields to that more recent Oscar winner about ethnic suffering Slumdog Millionaire. Both are extremely well-made films, but the bulk of their running time is, quite honestly, difficult to watch, though the endings of both are supremely satisfying and almost make up for all the heartache that preceded. However, while Slumdog Millionaire presented the squalid conditions in India just for the sake of showing them, The Killing Fields manages to be exciting and more thought-provoking in the process. The scenes showing the characters at gunpoint are so unnerving that my heart couldn’t help but beat faster. Also, while there are certainly some gruesome scenes, including some shocking executions, the violence for the most part is comparatively restrained.
Such restraint does not carry over to the language department, and several characters, especially John Malkovich, let F-words and profanity just roll off their tongues. Also, while Pran and, to a lesser extent, Sydney are very sympathetic (if unwise for remaining in Cambodia), my VC pointed out that the majority of the secondary characters have little backstory or character development. As with many powerful films, including some higher up on this list, The Killing Fields may not be very entertaining, but it is a film that needs to be seen, if only as a reminder so that such atrocities are never repeated.
Best line: (Pran’s voiceover while in the camp) “The wind whispers of fear and hate. The war has killed love. And those that confess to the Angka are punished, and no one dare ask where they go. Here, only the silent survive.”Artistry: 7 Characters/Actors: 9 Entertainment: 4 Visual Effects: 6 Originality: 7 Watchability: 4 Other (violence and language): -7 TOTAL: 30 out of 60
Tomorrow: #319: Sneakers
© 2014 S. G. Liput