Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

The Killing Fields (1984)

Directed by Roland Joffé

Starring Sam Waterston, Haing S. Ngor, John Malkovich, Julian Sands


Slow and long. The story had no direction, wandering as aimlessly as the characters. For those of us who aren’t up on the whole history of the war, we’re not sure where they’re escaping from, where they’re going, who’s good, or who’s bad. I think Ngor’s real life would have made a much better story. They definitely should have ended the film with the stills that they took (like in Rain Man) while they were out there.

And what’s with this “Imagine” crap at the end? Yes, it was better than the beaty techno crap they were playing throughout the rest of the film, but it was a bit too much. Almost laughable. It’s not like there was very much dramatic set-up or a huge climactic scene for that emotional song to score. They probably spent the whole budget on getting the rights for that song and didn’t have enough for decent actors.

This film desperately needed a star actor. Waterston was atrocious. I have no empathy for a cocky, know-it-all journalist who only cares about his story. And I just don’t like Malkovitch. He’s just too weird. First of all, he held his camera wrong. And where he would get nice Revlon sunglasses after being taken prisoner in Cambodia, I have no idea. Ngor was pretty good, but why he would suck the blood out of cows I have no idea. The acting and dialogue was stale all around.

A badly made film. In one scene (photographers jumping out of a helicopter as Waterston watches from a window), Waterston goes so far as to explain to us what we are seeing and why it is happening. Absolutely horrible. And the sound editing was awful. A few nice shots. The explosions (especially the one at the caf?© in the beginning) and the war scenes were awesome.

I have no idea how it won any of the awards that it did. Of everyone nominated, Ngor was probably the most deserving.

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