The Killing Fields, Roland Joffé (1984)

Wrapping up “journalist as hero/antihero” week. Joffé’s achievement here is easy to underestimate; there are so many ways this could have turned into a disaster, and he avoids them all. The journalist is a hero, and we get that, but he’s also a dangerously narcissistic asshole, and we get that too. His colleague Dith Pran is also a complex character, both ambitious and naive, and his character here is also fully three-dimensional. On top of all that, we get here a very detailed and comprehensive history lesson without ever feeling like we’re in a classroom — also a remarkable achievement. Real questions about journalistic ethics, taken seriously, plus a lively and accurate dramatization of one of the 20th century’s most despicable crimes. There are worse ways to spend a couple hours.

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