The Killing Fields (1984, rated R) was directed by Roland Joffe from a screenplay by Bruce Robinson. It includes a few brief appearances by one or two CJ-3B-type Jeeps (Mitsubishi CJ3B-J4C's), usually in the possession of Cambodian Khmer Rouge guerrilas. (Although they are chillingly real and brutal, one is occasionally reminded of the fictional, Keystone Kops-style revolutionaries in The Gods Must Be Crazy, with their collection of miscellaneous Jeeps.)
The "real life" story behind The Killing Fields is by now well-known. Sydney Schanberg, a correspondent for the New York Times , covered the invasion of Cambodia with the help of Dith Pran, a local journalist and translator. When the country fell to the communist Khmer Rouge, the lives of all foreigners were immediately at risk, and Schanberg got out along with most of his fellow Western correspondents. He offered Pran a chance to leave with him, but Pran elected to stay. And when the Khmer Rouge drew a bamboo curtain around Cambodia, Pran disappeared into a long silence. Back home in New York, Schanberg did what he could to discover information about his friend; four years later word came that Pran was still alive and had made it across the border to a refugee camp. The two friends were reunited, in one of the rare happy endings that come out of a period of great suffering.
In a more conventional film, he would, of course, have really disappeared, and we would have followed the point of view of the Schanberg character. But this movie takes the chance of switching points of view in midstream, and the last half of the film belongs to Dith Pran, who sees his country turned into an insane parody of a one-party state, ruled by the Khmer Rouge with instant violence and a savage intolerance for any reminders of the French and American presence (except perhaps for the Jeeps). At the center of many of those scenes is Dr. Haing S. Ngor, a non-actor who was recruited for the role from the ranks of Cambodian refugees in California, and who brings to it a simple sincerity that is absolutely convincing. Sam Waterston is also effective in the somewhat thankless role of Sydney Schanberg, and like a good war correspondent he seems more at home in a Jeep than being driven around by Pran in their pre-revolutionary white Mercedes.
See also CJ-3B's in Air America.
Return to The CJ-3B in the Movies on The CJ3B Page.
CJ3B Home | Site Map | History | Photos | Toys | Links | Bulletin Board