S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine

This documentary brings together the surviving victims and torturers of an Khmer Rouge interrogation camp. It shows that neither the victims or the perpetrators have moved on or forgotten their ordeals.

The survivors struggle to understand how their tormentors were indoctrinated to perform such barbaric acts, while at the same time trying to move past their own survivor guilt.

The most chilling aspect of the film is the interrogators dispassionate re-enactment of their crimes. They try to explain their failings as just taking orders, as taking the path of least resistance, but they fail to explain why they were often more brutal than their masters required. It’s all much easier to understand when you realise that most of these people were mere kids when they committed these acts.

The contents of this film are made more difficult to swallow by it’s lack of violence or strong emotion that obviously exist in all involved. The only windows to the past used are the setting and the black and white pictures that the Khmer Rouge took of their victims.

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