Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.
United Kingdom, 1984. Goldcrest Films International, International Film Investors, Enigma Productions. Screenplay by Bruce Robinson. Cinematography by Chris Menges. Produced by David Puttnam. Music by Mike Oldfield. Production Design by Roy Walker. Costume Design by Judy Moorcraft. Film Editing by Jim Clark. Academy Awards 1984. Boston Film Critics Awards 1984. Golden Globe Awards 1984. National Board of Review Awards 1984. New York Film Critics Awards 1984.
Right up there with Missing among the handful of brilliant political thrillers made in the early 80s, starring Sam Waterston as Sydney Schanberg, whose writings for the New York Times inspired the film. Schanberg was trapped in Cambodia during Pol Pot’s “Year Zero” genocide, teaming up with Cambodian contact Dith Pran (Haing S. Ngor), who sends his family to safety in the U.S. with the army but stays behind to help the journalist. Schanberg eventually is able to leave the country, but the friendship struck up with Pran is too strong to keep him from leaving without ensuring his safety as well. The performances are exceptional: Ngor won an Academy Award, himself a survivor of the “killing fields” (sadly, he was killed in America in a robbery attempt at the age of 56 in 1996), while Waterston has the best role of his film career as Schanberg, the two of them ably supported by John Malkovich and Julian Sands as fellow reporters. Roland Joffe’s direction couldn’t be better in a film that is both a moving portrait of a human relationship and a blistering account of headline news.