The Killing Fields




The second award was for film editing. That was a job of real artistry. It is always a choice of what tiny segments of a scene to emphasize and the editors got it exactly right. There was the terrified child holding her hands over her ears to shut out the bombing sounds. There was the tiny vegetable that Dith Pran plucks off a plant with relish when he is in the prison camp. There is the wash of blood on the floor in the hospital where people were dying.


Dr. Hang S. Ngor won an Oscar for his role of Dith Pran, one of the few non-professional actors to ever win an Oscar. He was especially suited to the part because he, himself, had endured 4 years of torture and imprisonment in a Cambodian work camp. He had to hide his identity of physician and watch his young wife die in childbirth while there. No wonder he was able to play the part so well. He was murdered in his garage in his home in Los Angeles in 1996 during a robbery in which he tried to protect a memento from his wife. It is surprising that it was not more successful at the American Academy Awards, notably for David Puttnam for Best Picture and Roland Joffe for best director. It did however sweep the British Oscars and quite rightly so.


But the entire cast was wonderful, each actors performance outstanding. Sam Waterson played Sydney Schanberg with passion and realism. John Malkovich played his photographer sidekick. Julian Sands had a small role as journalist Jon Swain who was one of the three westerners saved from execution by the intervention of Dith Pran and who tried unsuccessfully to forge a passport to help Dith Pran escape.


The character development is absolutely brilliant. This clearly focuses on the friendship which developed between the two men in the film and illustrates the fact that amidst the guns, bombs and bullets, glimmers of humanity and empathy still existed, and was capable of being brought forth hence, the uncanny comradeship between these two individuals.




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the killing fields