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First They Killed My Father is impactful

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First They Killed My Father is a Netflix film following the life of 5-year-old Loung Un (Sreymoch Sareum) as the KhmerRouge comes to power in Cambodia during the 1970s. The film, directed by Angelina Jolie, is adapted from a memoir written by the real-life Loung Ung, describing her childhood surviving the Angkar’s four-year reign.

The movie begins by showing part of daily life for Ung and her family. Ung is one of seven kids living with the family in Phnom Penh. The family is wealthier than most because of her father, portrayed by Phoeung Kompheak, who works as a government official; however, when the Khmer Rouge, also referred to as the Angkar, soldiers take over the capital, the family flees into the countryside of Kampuchea. 

As the Khmer Rouge rebels force Cambodians to work for them, the family is separated, and Ung is trained as a child soldier. The screenplay spends a large amount of time depicting her journey to reunite with her siblings. 

The film illustrates the terrifying events through Ung’s perspective, causing the audience to feel the same confusion and horror the character experiences. This technique also leads to the perception of constant chaos, depicting the real and brutal events.  

While there are some gruesome scenes, most of the camera shots focus on Ung’s reactions to the frightening events around her. Although the decision to film from a young girl’s point of view immerses the viewer, the lack of political details about the situation can sometimes be an annoyance.  

“First They Killed My Father” is an impactful work of art that dives into the brutality of life during the Khmer Rouge. In an effort to educate the Western world on a less explored subject, the film beautifully details the trauma and horror that affected millions of Cambodians. 

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First They Killed My Father is impactful