‘It changed all our lives’

Thirty years on, those in­volved in mak­ing TheKillingFields look back at its legacy.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES -

out a tomato plant Dith had been grow­ing.

“He sud­denly stopped in the mid­dle of the scene,” Joffe said. Ngor couldn’t do it any­more. The cold ex­pres­sion on the young girl’s face hit too close to home. In the mo­ment, Ngor thought she re­ally was a Kh­mer Rouge sol­dier. But Joffe eased his fears and even­tu­ally he com­pleted the scene.

Round­ing out the cast were John Malkovich as pho­to­jour­nal­ist Al Rock­off and Ju­lian Sands as Bri­tish jour­nal­ist Jon Swain. Sands said the di­rec­tor sent the ac­tors to Thai­land a month be­fore shoot­ing started to get im­mersed in the place and the truth of the story.

“I re­mem­ber the pro­found im­pact of vis­it­ing the Kh­mer refugee camps on the ThaiCam­bo­dian bor­der and talk­ing to sur­vivors about their ex­pe­ri­ences with Haing Ngor as trans­la­tor,” said Sands from Puerto Rico, where he is film­ing the NBC pi­rate se­ries Cross­bones with Malkovich.

Eleven years af­ter win­ning his Os­car, Ngor was shot to death out­side his apart­ment near Dodger Sta­dium. Water­ston re­called that be­yond his co-star’s “tremen­dous spine”, one could also see an “un­be­liev­able gen­tle­ness of spirit”.

Af­ter com­plet­ing the film, Water­ston and Joffe be­came in­volved with Cam­bo­dian char­i­ties. Joffe still vis­its the coun­try of­ten and with friends started the Cam­bo­dian Trust, which makes ar­ti­fi­cial limbs and op­er­ates a school for pros­thet­ics. Water­ston, who fol­lowed his long stint on NBC’s Law & Or­der with HBO’s The News­room, has lent his sup­port to an Amer­i­can ad­vo­cacy or­gan­i­sa­tion Refugees In­ter­na­tional. Put­tnam fre­quently vis­its Cambodia as the prime min­is­te­rial trade en­voy to that coun­try as well as Viet­nam and Laos.

Be­fore The Killing Fields, Schan­berg said, Cam­bo­di­ans “never knew dur­ing their time un­der the Kh­mer Rouge whether any­body in the out­side world knew about what was hap­pen­ing to them. The truth was, that was pretty true. The movie changed that.” — Los An­ge­les Times/McClatchy-Tri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

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