4 Important Films to Watch Before Visiting Cambodia

4 Important Films to Watch Before Visiting Cambodia

4 Important Films to Watch Before Visiting Cambodia


For most travellers to Cambodia the history of the country escapes us, so it is very important to brush up on your knowledge before visiting. Loan some books and watch the below movies for a better understanding. The benefit of this will be a richer travel experience. One is even free to watch on YouTube!


The Killing Fields


The first and only major film to look into the genocide that happened in Cambodia under the evil rule of the Khmer Rouge. This film is based on the book by Sydney Schanberg, called ‘The Death and Life of Dith Pran’. It tells the true story of a Western journalist, Sydney, and his Khmer counterpart, Dith Pran, as the new regime unfolds, changing their lives forever. Particularly gritty moments are when Dith escapes the clutches of forced labour and flees across the open graves that are quite literally killing fields. Watching this film before visiting the actual Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh is a must.

The Cambodian actor who plays Dith in the film, Haing S. Ngor, actually won an Oscar for his incredible performance. And the actor who plays Sydney is Sam Waterson, best known as Jack McCoy in the long running Law & Order.



Tomb Raider


Millions of tourists flock to Siem Reap because they want to visit the world famous site where Angelina Jolie filmed Tomb Raider. Oh, and they also want to see a little monument known as Angkor Wat. Ok ok, it’s quite a big monument (it was once the biggest city in the world, back in the day!), and maybe even people come to see it over the film set. Watch Tomb Raider and don’t forget to bring your own tank top and braid your hair before visiting Angkor Wat.

Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia


This is an important documentary by the famed Australian journalist John Pilger. Year Zero recounts the atrocities the Cambodian people faced under the cruel hands of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Released in 1979, viewers were so affected by what they saw that they donated over 45 million pounds in aid to Cambodia.

Like most of John Pilger’s documentaries, it is free to watch on YouTube.

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll


It’s strange to think that Beatlemania hit Cambodia in the ‘60s and ‘70s. But it did, as this fantastic documentary shows. The fashion and music will be familiar to Western audiences and definitely brought a smile to my face to see the Khmer crowds bopping and twisting along. Then comes the heart break – as the Khmer Rouge rose to power they put an end to anything considered inessential to their quest to turn back the clocks to Year Zero. All intellectuals, including musicians, were murdered. This painstakingly crafted documentary collects what remains of the Cambodian pop scene.

Watch the trailer below.


Have you seen any of these films? What did you think of them – did they help you understand Cambodia’s history better and inspire you to visit? Let us know in the comments.


Also, if you have any other movie recommendations make sure you tell us!

  • John kiwihove

    Saw Year Zero at the Bopana Centre in Phnom Penh. Incredible to see the denial by the West and lack of support all because Vietnam were the invaders. If they had not intervened you have to wonder how many more years of genocide would have taken place. Highly recommend to watch the film.

    • http://www.nomadhead.com/ NomadHead

      Agree with you completely John. Have you seen the rest of John Pilger’s work? You can watch most of them for free online. His piece on Vietnam ‘The Last Battle’, 1995, is very relevant to how the country exists today.

      • John kiwihove

        Will have a look. Just spent a year travelling. Did a blog called kiwihove.wordpress.com spectacularly unsuccessful but fun to do. Loved Cambodia spent 9 days in Siem Reap.

        • http://www.nomadhead.com/ NomadHead

          Just checked out your blog, nice job! Right about the name though, bit of a mouthful ha. As long as you’re having fun, that’s the main thing. Keep it up :)

  • Maribeth Wisniewski Becker

    Just saw “don’t think I’ve forgotten”- followed by q&a by the filmmaker. Wow! So well done. Definitely worth checking out.

Pin It on Pinterest

Tell a Friend