Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

The Killing Fields

As a prelude to my 'Swimming to Cambodia' Dinner & a Movie, Rene and I watched 'The Killing Fields' last night, a first for Rene, and a revisit for me. Rene was impressed and moved by the story, however I must say that, viewing it for the second time around, it lost some of its 'shock value' for me because I already knew all the horror that was in store. Nevertheless, The Killling Fields has held its cinematic and historic value over time, and is especially relevant in these troubled times on the opposite side of the globe.

For those of you who don't know what one film has to do with the other, here's a brief explanation:

The Killing Fields is a 1984 film starring Sam Waterston, John Malkovich, and Haing S. Ngor, which chronicles the fall of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh to the Khmer Rouge during the Vietnam War as seen through the eyes of several New York Times reporters and photojournalists. The film also features Spaulding Gray in a small but pivotal role as the U.S. Consul. Three years later, Spaulding Gray went on to recount his experiences during the filming of The Killing Fields in an engaging and spirited monologue titled 'Swimming to Cambodia', directed by Jonathan Demme.

It was a great loss to both the film industry and contemporary American literature when the body of Spaulding Gray was found in the East River in New York City on March 8, 2004, after being reported missing in January. As the son of a manic depressive mother who eventually committed suicide, it was no secret that Spaulding Gray also suffered from bouts of severe depression himself, and at the time of his disappearance, he had been working on a new monologue based upon his recovery after an automobile accident in Ireland. Spaulding Gray was by no means a big Hollywood star, but will always be remembered instead for his dramatic, and oft comedic monologues in which he shone in the best role of all...himself.