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Blood and violins

The Killing FieldsShemaroo/UTV World Movies, Rs 349Rating: ***

entertainment Updated: Jan 28, 2011 23:01 IST

The Killing Fields
Shemaroo/UTV World Movies, Rs 349
Rating: ***

Roland Joffe won the Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for this movie on the horrors of a war-ravaged Cambodia. Twenty-seven years after its release, The Killing Fields does seem a bit dated, not for its subject matter — the pitiless brutality unleashed on a people in the war between the American-backed forces of South Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge forces under the homicidial Pol Pot — but for the overtly sentimental way in which he portrays all this.

Joffe pulls out all the stops, in the same manner in which he made a saccharine-coated icon out of Calcutta rickshaw-pullers in The City of Joy, and tells us the story of New York Times journalist Sydney Schanberg’s friendship with Cambodian journalist and his guide in Phnom Penh Dith Pran.

The film is powerful on two counts: one, in its depiction of the horrors of war, and two, in its exploration of a moral dilemma that besets Schanberg who is responsible for Pran staying back in Phnom Penh and being captured by the Khmer Rouge.

Where Joffe sounds a false note — and it’s a big false note — it’s the maudlin violins that the whole film is drowned in.

Especially when the two reunited friends meet again to the tune of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ playing in the background. Sheesh.