The Student News Site of Gonzaga College High School

The Aquilian

The Aquilian

The Aquilian

The Killing Fields holds up in 2020 as an exceptional war film


The Killing Fields is an incredibly well put together film that shows the horrors of modern proxy warfare in its entirety and the way it is covered. This 1984 film won numerous awards, including the BAFTA award for best film, Academy Award for best cinematography and an Academy Award for best Film editing. The Killing Fields, and I believe the film is deserving of these awards and still holds up today.

The Killing Fields, which takes place in Cambodia during a civil war between the national government and the communist Khmer Rouge, follows Cambodian photo journalist (who also was a translator for English-speaking journalists) Dith Pran, played by Haing S. Ngor, and New York Times reporter American Sydney Schanberg, played by Sam Waterson. The two journalists are covering the conflict in the country, but their job takes a turn for the worst when the revolutionaries move into the capital.

The film doesn’t pull any punches when depicting the violence in the region at the time, and this, combined with its camera work, makes it very impactful. An example of this is the hospital scene where it shows the horrible injuries and mutilations people including children have suffered as a result of the war, and it moves through the room in a single take at a slow enough pace for someone to truly grasp the magnitude of violence that was taking place. The film also knows when to slow itself down and build its world with little to know dialogue. When the main characters face capture, having the only dialogue in the scene be in an unsubtitled foreign language makes the viewers share in the fear and uncertainty of the characters and immerses them more fully.

If one was to go into the film knowing its take on the war and violence as a whole then it executes in masterfully, and I would highly recommend it. It could also be a great tool to teach others of the horrors of war and the shades of gray it involves.

Ultimately, I’d rate it 4.5 stars; it loses some points as it can be a little hard to follow at times, especially if someone doesn’t know the full historical context of that specific time period. However, this is ultimately a minor complaint in an otherwise amazing film.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Aquilian

Your donation will support the student journalists of Gonzaga College High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Aquilian

Comments (0)

All The Aquilian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *