Killing Fields, The (1984)

Roland Joffe’s political drama, The Killing Fields, was based on Sydney Schanberg’s 1980 New York Times Magazine article, “The Death and Life of Dith Pran.”

It recounts in a fictionalized, conventionally melodramatic, but also emotionally engaging mode the political situation in Cambodia during its civil war, centering on the relationship between  the NY Times reporter (Sam Waterston) and his Cambodian translator and friend Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor), particularly after the latter falls into the hands of  the brutal Khmer Rouge.

The movie was nominated for seven awards and won three, including a citation for Chris Menges’s s exhilarating cinematography. 


Oscar Nominations: 7

Picture, produced by David Puttnam

Director: Ronald Jaffe

Screenplay (Adapted): Bruce Robinson

Actor: Sam Waterston

Supporting Actor: Haing S. Ngor

Cinematography: Chris Menges

Film Editing: Jim Clark

Oscar Awards: 3

Supporting Actor


Film Editing

Oscar Context


In 1984, the big Oscar winners was the musical “Amadeus,” which won Best Picture, Director for Milos Forman, Actor for F. Murray Abraham, Adapted Screenplay for Peter Shaffer, and other awards. Another British nominee was David Lean’s last epic, “A Passage to India,” an adaptation of E. M. Forster’s celebrated novel, was nominated for eleven awards, though won only two.

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