Cinematic Culpability in The Killing Fields and New Year Baby
This chapter compares Roland Joffé’s Academy Award-winning film The Killing Fields (1984) with Cambodian American Socheata Poeuv’s New Year Baby (2006). The Killing Fields is a master narrative of redemption and liberation that draws on a now-familiar Vietnam War trope of American saviors and Southeast Asian victims, while New Year Baby is an intergenerational story premised on the Khmer Rouge’s policy of forced marriage. Poeuv’s particular emphasis on Democratic Kampuchean biopower foregrounds a deeper consideration of biopolitics and necropolitics. The chapter evaluates the role that apology plays in reconciling the genocidal past, incorporating author Marianne Hirsch’s concept of “postmemory” as a means to explore the impact of parental trauma on children of survivors.
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