Goeth (the head of the camp) really was a bastard. He would set his dogs on children. He really did have people randomly executed in a group for stealing, and someone else claimed the people he executed were the perpetrators. He had the rest of the group whipped. He actually did like to sit with a high power rifle and use prisoners for target practice. He also beat someone's head in with a brick. He did sadist mental games like play children's songs on loudspeakers while taking all the children away from their parents to be gassed. Considering he was diagnosed as mentally insane by SS doctors, it wouldn't surprise me if he did say "heil hitler" at the time of his execution.The dogs, the whips, the brick, and the children's songs were not in the movie that I remember. Those would have given the movie some edge and taken him to be a less sympathetic character. Maybe due to the quality of the other actors or the milquetoast writing, but his character was about the only interesting one in the whole movie and I began to root for him. In the movie he is simply a sort-of-evil, generic sadistic prison warden (maybe there is redemption for him). A chicks-behind-bars piece of trash film would have a more "evil" bastard in charge doing worse things.But again, you are comparing the film to history and importing that history into the film. Think of it as a blank slate (as much as possible) and see what the film ITSELF gives you.My best friends in college lived through the Khmer Rouge activities in Cambodia, losing parents, siblings, friends and nearly dying themselves. I heard some of their stories, of course, as well as from their families. But when watching "The Killing Fields" I drop those stories from my mind (as much as possible) and watch the movie as a self-contained entity. Where, as cinema, does it succeed and fail? Where is the engagement as a fictional story?I'm not terribly concerned that the concentration camps were worse than depicted in Schindler's List but instead how did the depicted camps advanced the story or the emotional weight of the film. I would forgive many things, like too-clean camps or cute kids, if there was something in the film's acting, directing, or action that engaged me. With the ending given away before you even see the movie, where is the tension, where is the drama? I expect more from a documentary and this is fiction.Maybe because Spielberg felt he had to tone down the evil to market his movie it ends up being as satisfying as a McDonald's hamburger -- approachable, convenient, simple, boring and cheap.
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