Genre Guesstimation – The Killing Fields (1984)

The idea behind this feature (Genre Guesstimation) is for me to watch a bunch of new movies (or ones that I haven’t seen many times) from the chosen monthly GG genre in order to expand my knowledge of movies within that particular genre.

This month’s Genre has been chosen by Vinnie of Vinnie H. and it is Historical True Story Films.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of February by sending them to

Try to think out of the box! Great choice Vinnie!

Let’s see if I felt that this movie would be worthy of being in the company of my others favorite movies in the genre of Historical True Story Movies.

“If anybody ever gets to read about this, you won’t be able to look them in the face!” – Sydney Schanberg

Number of Times Seen – Twice (Cable in the 90’s and 1 Feb 2018)

Brief Synopsis – An American journalist in Cambodia tries to survive and document the genocide perpetrated by the government during the Khmer Rouge reign of power.

My Take on it – This is a film that I saw years ago and it has stood with me ever since because of its realistic yet graphic look at the atrocities committed in Cambodia during the late 70’s.

The story is gripping and thrilling the entire time and it never lets up as we see more and more of what happened.

Knowing the fact that this is based on a true story raises the impact factor quite high.

Sam Waterston has always been a powerful actor, but he really shines in this film.

The problem is that he is outshone in every scene by Hang Ngor who is superb in this film despite never having acted beforehand.

Ngor won Best Supporting Actor from both the Globes and Oscars that year for this role eventhough he is clearly the lead character in the film.

His performance is the main reason that this film feels so poignant and harrowing to watch even after 3 and a half decades.

He is somehow able to make us believe everything happening perhaps due to the fact that he wasn’t a trained actor and was basing his performance on his own experiences in Cambodia during the time depicted.

This is clearly the best film among the 5 nominees and it is a shame that the Academy would have to wait two more years to finally award a film and Director for portraying events in Southeast Asia during the 1970’s.

In addition, it is one of the best films of 1984!

Bottom Line – Amazing film that is very graphic and realistic in its depiction of the atrocities committed in Cambodia. Waterston is wonderful in the lead role yet this is Ngor’s film the entire time.  He may have won an Oscar and a Globe as Best Supporting Actor but he is the main reason this film is so poignant and harrowing to watch even after 35 years.  It would take a few more years before the members of the Academy would be able to give a film depicting the nature of Southeast Asia the award for Best Picture and Director eventhough this is clearly the best film of the 5 nominees.  Highly Highly Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Haing S. Ngor became only the second non-professional actor to win an Oscar, following Harold Russell in William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) (From IMDB)

Genre Grandeur Worthy? – Most definitely! This is an amazing film that tells such a compelling and harrowing story and it is depicted extremely well and realistically.

Rating – Oscar Worthy (9/10)


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7 thoughts on “Genre Guesstimation – The Killing Fields (1984)

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