"killing fields" survivor dith pran dies

Dith Pran, the Cambodian-born journalist whose story of survival and escape from murderous Khmer Rouge revolutionaries in 1979 became the inspiration for the 1984 film The Killing Fields, died today of pancreatic cancer. He was 65: Killing Fields' survivor Dith Pran dies
Dith was working as an interpreter and assistant for Schanberg in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, when the Vietnam War reached its chaotic end in April 1975 and both countries were taken over by Communist forces.

Schanberg helped Dith's family get out but was forced to leave his friend behind after the capital fell; they were not reunited until Dith escaped four and a half years later. Eventually, Dith resettled in the United States and went to work as a photographer for the Times.

It was Dith himself who coined the term "killing fields" for the horrifying clusters of corpses and skeletal remains of victims he encountered on his desperate journey to freedom.
Dith's ordeal was chronicled in a 1980 magazine article, "The Death and Life of Dith Pran," which later became a book, and the basis for The Killing Fields. The film won three Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Haing S. Ngor, another Cambodian escapee from the Khmer Rouge, who played Dith Pran. Here's the New York Times' obituary: Dith Pran, ‘Killing Fields’ Photographer, Dies at 65

angry archive