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First They Killed My Father

First They Killed My Father

Feb. 18, 2017Cambodia136 Min.TV-MA
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First They Killed My Father full Movie  shows A 5-year-old girl embarks on a harrowing quest for survival amid the sudden rise and terrifying reign of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father” is far and away her best work as a director: a rare film about a national tragedy told through the eyes and mind of a child, and as fine a war movie as has ever been made. Adapted by Jolie and co-writer Loung Ung from Ung’s memoir about her family’s experiences after the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia, it stands apart from most work in this vein not just because of what it does so well, but because of what it refuses to do.

There are emotionally powerful moments, particularly near the end when you start to see some light at the end of the tunnel, but there’s little in the way of canned Hollywood uplift. But every image and feeling are anchored to the point-of-view of Ung, played by the remarkable young actress Sareum Srey Moch. She was five when the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh and seven when she made it out, her young mind stained by memories of hunger, brutality and sudden death. She learned skills that no child should know, like how to plant land mines, fire an AK-47, and drive a spear into a Vietnamese soldier’s chest.

The movie kicks off with a prologue alluding to how American carpet bombing of Cambodia during the closing years of the war helped create a power vacuum that vicious people rushed to fill. This is related through documentary and news clips of bombers incinerating forests, U.S. troops understandably expressing little interest in or animosity toward Cambodia, then-President Richard Nixon insisting that there is no American war there, and then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger callously promising a “final solution” in the region. The blend of languages in this section reinforces the idea that this era was a tragedy of international significance, regardless of whether people who were alive at the time paid attention.

Luong’s story begins in relative peace, with the heroine and her bourgeois family, headed by a military police officer father (Phoeung Kompheak), in the capital, wondering what changes the end of the U.S. war will bring. The Khmer Rouge, a splinter of the Vietnam People’s Army of North Vietnam led by future dictator Pol Pot, rolls into the city, crushing the remnants of the country’s weak official government and initiating a purge that would claim millions of lives. Loung’s father sees the writing on the wall and leads his wife (Sveng Socheata) and children from the city. 

From that point on, “First They Killed My Father” becomes a survival story about a suddenly powerless family doing whatever it takes to get through the day. Their efforts are shadowed by the knowledge that not all of them will make it out alive, and that even outwardly unremarkable interactions could lead to the family being separated, imprisoned, brutalized or murdered. The early scenes of Luong’s mother, father and siblings divesting themselves of most possessions (including some beloved dresses and toys) are all the more vivid for being underplayed. This dry-eyed reportage continues throughout the film, ratcheting up toward operatic or tragic heights only when Loung is at her most distraught.

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First They Killed My Father
First They Killed My Father
First They Killed My Father
First They Killed My Father
First They Killed My Father
Original title First They Killed My Father
IMDb Rating 7.2 15,657 votes
TMDb Rating 7.4 456 votes
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