Annie Magallanes

Written by Annie Magallanes

Modified & Updated: 03 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


The movie “The Killing Fields” is a gripping and haunting portrayal of one of the darkest chapters in human history. Released in 1984, this powerful film directed by Roland Joffé explores the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and its devastating effects on the lives of countless innocent people during the late 1970s. “The Killing Fields” delves into the true story of Dith Pran, a Cambodian journalist, and his harrowing journey to survive the horrors of the Khmer Rouge reign. From the heart-wrenching performances to the stunning cinematography, this film has left an indelible mark on both the movie industry and its viewers. In this article, we will dive deep into the movie and uncover 39 fascinating facts that you may not know about “The Killing Fields.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The Killing Fields” is a powerful movie based on real events during the Cambodian Civil War. It sheds light on the atrocities of war and the importance of truth-telling by journalists.
  • The film’s impact led to increased support for Cambodian genocide victims and raised awareness about human rights causes. It continues to preserve the stories of those affected by the war.
Table of Contents

Fact 1

Released in 1984, The Killing Fields is a British biographical drama film directed by Roland Joffé.

Fact 2

It is based on the real-life experiences of Sydney Schanberg, a journalist for The New York Times, during the Cambodian Civil War.

Fact 3

The movie stars Sam Waterston as Sydney Schanberg and Haing S. Ngor as Dith Pran, Schanberg’s Cambodian colleague and friend.

Fact 4

Haing S. Ngor, who played Dith Pran, won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his powerful and emotional performance.

Fact 5

The Killing Fields was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Fact 6

The film was shot on location in Thailand, where the Cambodian scenes were recreated to resemble the actual locations.

Fact 7

Roland Joffé won the Academy Award for Best Director for his exceptional work in capturing the harrowing story.

Fact 8

The Killing Fields received critical acclaim for its realistic portrayal of the atrocities of war and its impact on the lives of ordinary people.

Fact 9

The movie’s title, “The Killing Fields,” refers to the mass graves where the Khmer Rouge regime executed thousands of Cambodians.

Fact 10

Several survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime were involved in the making of the film to ensure its authenticity and accuracy.

Fact 11

The Killing Fields was one of the first major films to shed light on the Cambodian genocide and the ruthless Khmer Rouge regime.

Fact 12

The movie captures the emotional and psychological toll of war on both the journalists covering the conflict and the innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

Fact 13

It depicts the resilience and strength of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable horrors.

Fact 14

The Killing Fields remains a poignant reminder of the atrocities committed during the Cambodian Civil War and the importance of bearing witness to history.

Fact 15

Upon its release, the movie sparked international awareness and increased support for refugee aid in Cambodia.

Fact 16

The film’s haunting musical score, composed by Mike Oldfield, adds depth and emotion to the storytelling.

Fact 17

The Killing Fields was praised for its exceptional cinematography, capturing the beauty of Cambodia while juxtaposing it with the horrors of war.

Fact 18

It showcases the importance of journalistic integrity and the pursuit of truth, even in the face of immense danger.

Fact 19

The Killing Fields serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of freedom of the press and the role of journalists in exposing injustice.

Fact 20

The film’s powerful performances and gripping storytelling make it a must-watch for anyone interested in historical dramas.

Fact 21

It sheds light on the often-overlooked history of Cambodia and the long-lasting effects of war on its people.

Fact 22

The Killing Fields was praised for its authentic portrayal of the Cambodian culture and its attention to detail.

Fact 23

The movie’s screenplay, written by Bruce Robinson, is based on Sydney Schanberg’s book “The Death and Life of Dith Pran.

Fact 24

Many of the film’s scenes were shot in actual locations where the events took place, adding to the film’s realism.

Fact 25

The Killing Fields was successful at the box office, grossing over $34 million worldwide.

Fact 26

It received numerous accolades from various award ceremonies and film festivals around the world.

Fact 27

The movie’s impact was felt beyond the world of cinema, as it brought international attention to the ongoing struggles in Cambodia.

Fact 28

The Killing Fields serves as a tribute to the resilience and strength of the survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime.

Fact 29

It is a reminder of the atrocities committed during times of conflict and the importance of learning from history to prevent them from happening again.

Fact 30

The Killing Fields continues to be regarded as one of the most powerful and impactful war films ever made.

Fact 31

The movie’s success led to increased advocacy and support for human rights causes around the world.

Fact 32

It serves as a testament to the power of film in raising awareness and inspiring change.

Fact 33

The Killing Fields was included in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 2003 for its cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.

Fact 34

The film’s tagline, “He was a reporter. He took a risk. His life would never be the same,” encapsulates the central theme of the movie.

Fact 35

The Killing Fields portrays the courage and determination of individuals in the face of unimaginable adversity.

Fact 36

The movie’s title is a metaphor for the fields filled with the bodies of those who lost their lives during the Cambodian genocide.

Fact 37

The Killing Fields serves as a testament to the importance of truth-telling and the responsibility of journalists to report the facts.

Fact 38

The film’s profound impact on its audience led to increased support for the victims of the Cambodian genocide.

Fact 39

The Killing Fields continues to be an enduring piece of cinematic history, preserving the memories and stories of those affected by the Cambodian Civil War.


Overall, The Killing Fields is a gripping and emotionally powerful movie that sheds light on the tragic events of the Cambodian genocide. Through its compelling storytelling and remarkable performances, it brings to life the horrors of war and the strength of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity. The film serves as a reminder of the importance of learning from history and understanding the consequences of political conflicts.


Q: Is The Killing Fields based on a true story?

A: Yes, The Killing Fields is based on the true story of New York Times reporter Sydney Schanberg and his Cambodian colleague Dith Pran, who were trapped in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime.

Q: When was The Killing Fields released?

A: The Killing Fields was released in 1984, directed by Roland Joffé.

Q: Did The Killing Fields receive any awards or nominations?

A: Yes, the movie received several accolades, including three Academy Awards nominations and winning in the categories of Best Supporting Actor and Best Cinematography.

Q: Is The Killing Fields a graphic movie?

A: The movie does not shy away from depicting the brutality of the Cambodian genocide, and it includes some intense and disturbing scenes. Viewer discretion is advised.

Q: Where was The Killing Fields filmed?

A: The movie was primarily filmed in Thailand, with some additional scenes shot in the Philippines.

Q: Does The Killing Fields provide historical context?

A: Yes, the movie provides a historical backdrop to the events of the Cambodian genocide, including the rise of the Khmer Rouge and the subsequent atrocities committed by their regime.

Q: Is The Killing Fields available to stream online?

A: The movie may be available for streaming on various platforms, such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime. It is recommended to check the availability in your region.

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