I watched “The Killing Fields” last night, which is based on the civil war that killed almost 3 million people in Cambodia in the 70s.
Here is a clip from the end of the movie, which features the famous John Lennon optimistic number, “Imagine”.
Haing S. Ngor, who played Dith Pran was a physician (obstetrics) and medical officer in the Cambodian army. He became a captive of the Khmer Rouge during the and was imprisoned and tortured; in order to escape execution he denied being a doctor or having an education. He moved to the U.S. as a refugee in 1980, and though he had no formal acting experience, he was chosen to portray photographer Dith Pran in The Killing Fields (1984) and won an Academy Award.
On 25 February 1996, Ngor was found shot to death in the garage of his apartment building in Los Angeles.
I also wrote a poem (which is still in its rough stages) right after watching the movie. It’s written from a journalist’s viewpoint, who feels helpless at not being able to look down the eyes of a child in the war-torn land.
The Killing Fields
‘Twas just another day in the hills far away
As I walked alone in the war torn streets
Sky filled with smoke while a lone house burned
A lifetime lost in cries of a child
I knew the plight spread all around
Yet there I was from the civilized world
Penning down the sounds of guns and again
Cries of a child with eyes full of fear
No I’ve never felt the way I did
Staring at the people with no sign of hope
Living and dying in the shade of the gun
And I walked away with my head hung low
Just ‘fore I left, I felt a sudden tug
A child at my steps clinging just to hear
“I was there to help – I was there to stay”
Would I be the one who’d show them the way?
I felt my heart drown in the little girl’s eyes
As I stood there with not a word to say
No I wasn’t the one, there’s nothing I could do
I’d come just to write about the war torn land
So I said in all of my helplessness
“Help’s on the way, dear child, do not cry”
But deep down inside, I knew ’twas a lie
The world wouldn’t care for people who’d die
It’ll just be a Six O clock story for You and I.
18th June 2006