Monday, March 31, 2008

Nothing to forgive Sydney

The Cambodian photographer, Dith Pran, has died in New Jersey.

Dith Pran, whose life story under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime was recreated in the film “The Killing Fields”, was 65 years old and had been ill with pancreatic cancer since 2007.

The NY Times has recently put together this very nice short film entitled "The Last Word: Dith Pran".

Sydney Schanberg, a former New York Times correspondent (1970-75) who worked with Pran in the early 1970s covering the rise of Pol Pot and Cambodia’s bloody civil war, announced his death yesterday.

Pictured below is: (L to R) Sam Waterston, who portrayed Schanberg in the film, Dith Pran and Sydney Schanberg.

Not only did Sydney Schanberg credit Pran with coming up with the term “the killing fields”, but also he insisted on sharing with him the 1976 Pulitzer Prize, which he won for his coverage of Cambodia during that time.

I got a chance to work with Sam Waterston late last year when we shot the current TD Amertrade commercials.

Since I was the 2nd A.D. on the shoot, I had the great privilege of talking to Sam about the making of “The Killing Fields”. When he told me about the adventures they had making the film, his eyes lit up and I could tell that it was one of the great experiences of his life.

In the film, the actor Haing Ngor played Dith Pran.

Haing Ngor survived incredible dangers during his own life in Cambodia only to die violently in 1996 at the hand of members of the "Oriental Lazy Boyz" street gang in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors argued that they killed Ngor because, after handing over his gold Rolex watch willingly, he refused to give them a locket that contained a photo of his deceased wife, My-Huoy.

Ngor told a New York Times reporter after the release of The Killing Fields, "If I die from now on, OK! This film will go on for a hundred years."

The Killing Fields is a very important film. Both Dith Pran, and Haing Ngor understood the lasting impact it could have on future audiences.

I really think that you should all take the time to see it, not only for these two great men, but also for yourselves.

“Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.”

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Blogger Dusty said...

Beautiful eulogy for both men Peter. I paused and thought about Dith when I heard of his death, and all he saw and suffered in his lifetime. I wasn't aware that hang Ngor had been killed so horribly.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Katy said...

Thanks for a(nother) great post

6:38 PM  
Blogger Tanya Kristine said...

I did see that. and i LOVED it.

7:10 PM  

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