Archive for Sydney Schanberg

Movies: ‘The Killing Fields’

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Movies with tags , , , , , , on June 21, 2013 by Thim Kwai

The movie tells the (true) story of Sydney Schanberg, an American journalist (New York Times) and Dith Pran, a Cambodian collegue and local guide/translator working with/for Schanberg. They witness the last weeks of the pro American Lon Nol regime and the conquest of Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge. Incredible atrocities occur. Phnom Penh gets three days after the conquest completely evacuated. More than two million people had to leave the megacity in an apocalyptic exodus.

While all the remaining Westerners gather in the French Embassy and manage to leave the country, Dith can not leave for he has no valid passport. As an educated man Dith has to expect his execution by the new rulers.

The hectical, thickening aggressive atmosphere is very well caught into the picture. The shown scences are very realistic and convincing.

Anyhow avoiding execution, a years long ordeal in the working camps of the Khmer Rouge starts for Dith Pran. He has continuously to claim that he were just a simple peasant, until he is finally able to escape the murderous regime over the border to Thailand.

The movie is also about a certain kind of friendship which evolved between Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran. Schanberg, above all, suffers a bad conscience for having put pressure on Dith remaining in Cambodia at a time when he could escape easily and then leaving Dith back in the hands of the savage Khmer Rouge. Back in the USA he doesn’t believe in Dith’s death, although he is cut off of all contact to him, and Dith is highly probable supposed to be executed by the communists. Dith was a very loyal worker for Schanberg, while Schanberg represents an ambitious, aggressive reporter who puts success over everything else.

A kind of real-life happy end occurs when Schanberg finally get’s message of Dith’s successful escape.

For the understanding of the film a certain knowledge of Cambodian History is required.

Click the link to read the whole and illustrated article ‘The Killing Fields‘.

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