Reviews

The Killing Fields: Special Edition

4

As director Roland Joffé emphasises in his commentary, this isn't so much a war movie as a love story - the love between Sydney Schanberg, award-winning NY journalist, and his Cambodian guide and interpreter, Dith Pran. In the film's first half, stunningly shot by Chris Menges, we watch Cambodia topple into agony and chaos thanks to the cynical US bombing campaign. Forced to leave as the Khmer Rouge trundles into town and unable to take Pran with him, Schanberg spends the next few years struggling to get his friend out, while Pran endures Pol Pot's brutal and murderous regime - his two million-killing 'Year Zero'.

Sam Waterston shrewdly captures Schanberg's slightly prissy, conscience-stricken lust for glory, while Haing S Ngor - a doctor who had never acted before - brings a wealth of personal experience to bear in depicting Pran's sufferings. The moment when, escaping his captors, he stumbles into the eponymous boneyard, a paddy-field littered with skulls and skeletons as far as the eye can see, is sheer skin-crawling nightmare.

Besides Joffé's informative commentary, this two-disc set offers decent pickings - an edition of the TV arts programme Omnibus from the time of the film's release and a recent interview with producer David Puttnam. The film's one ghastly miscalculation, though, is the joyous final reunion scene - where some twerp had the bright idea of treacling up the soundtrack with John Lennon's 'Imagine'. Horrific.

Film Details

  • 15
  • UK Theatrical Release Date: February 6th 2006

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