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The Killing Fields (1984)

Someone once said heroes are not heroes for fifteen minutes; they are heroes 24 hours a day. In The Killing Fields, directed by Roland Joffe, we see two ordinary human beings whose lives are transformed by the Khmer Rouge take over of Cambodia. Sydney Schanberg is a journalist covering the fall of Cambodia, with the aid of a translator named Dith Pran. Schanberg leaves Cambodia with others foreigners when it is apparent that the country will fall. Dith choose to stay behind. When Schanberg gets him he cannot forget about Dith and the possible horrors he is facing. The film switches to DithÆs point-of-view; with many scenes of graphic carnage that show Dith doing anything he can to survive the madness and brutality of the Khmer Rouge.

All Sydney can do is send hundreds of letters to ascertain the whereabouts of Dith. Dith, in contrast, works as a servant, disguises his nationality and education, and suffers first-hand accounts of unimaginable suffering and horror. In the meantime, Sydney continues with efforts aimed at liberating Dith. Eventually they will be reunited, having both acted heroically in order to achieve mutual peace and happiness. When Sydney says to Dith ôYou forgive me?ö, Dith replies, ôNothing to forgive Sydney. Nothingö (Joffe).

The film does an excellent job of showing how an ill-intention regime like Khmer Rouge implements policies that encompass genocide. We also see that such regimes refuse to tolerate freedom of expression or any difference of opinion between state ideology and individual ideology. As Dith explains at one point, ôWe must be like the ox, and have no thought, except for the Party. And have no love, but for the Angka. People starve, but we must not grow food. We must honor the comrade children, whose minds are not corrupted by the pastö (Joffe).

In the numerous scenes without dialogue in the second-half of the film, we see DithÆs anguish as he stands among


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The Killing Fields (1984). (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:46, December 06, 2021, from