The Killing Fields
Canby observes the difficulty, Ebert finds advantage in it. It may be simply stated thus: the first-person narrative rendered cinematically takes on a new dimension and on the surface acutely resembles Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing, with John Lennon’s Imagine at the ending gaily capping off a surprise reconciliation. Now, bear in mind that there are two types of moviegoers, those who complain because the movie isn’t like the book, and those who never read the book in the first place.
There are two types of artists as well, the ones who manufacture criticism in the guise of art (Postmodernists), and the rest who are in turn the subjects of the former’s attentions. That is the real dichotomy of the film, and so you have Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor) amongst his country’s very dry bones while Sydney Schanberg (Sam Waterston) of the New York Times is very guiltily accepting his Pulitzer Prize.
Joffé has some exceptionally fine effects derived from Bergman’s The Silence and filmed in color at close hand. The reporters gathered in the French embassy at Phnom Penh try their best to fabricate a passport for Pran, but it won’t wash. Joffé is also very good at conveying the childishness of the Khmer Rouge, and generally shows a vigorous technique in the technical applications of filming a crowded street full of motion, perhaps in opposing directions, but it’s neither a travelogue nor a hallucination, just a sure attempt to find footing where things aren’t always what they seem at first blush.
The paragon of chefs, a master artist on the analogy of Velasquez and Haydn, dies rather than leave his Prince to serve the King at Versailles.
The ideal structure counters His Majesty with Monsieur his royal brother, an arrant queer.
The real structure is full of beautiful feints including court intrigue and a royal mistress, best of all the historical legend that Vatel died because the fish banquet was unsupplied.
The alarming reviews in Variety and the New York Times betray the film as cast before swine.