Dith Pran, the real-life Cambodian-born photographer whose story of capture, enslavement and eventual escape from the hands of the psychopathic Khmer Rouge was dramatized in Roland Joffe‘s The Killing Fields, died yesterday of pancreatic cancer.
Dith Pran (l.), Haing S. Ngor (r.)
I never met him, but I interviewed Haing S. Ngor, who not only played Dith in the film but knew him as a close friend, for an Us magazine piece in ’84.
A lovely hard-core guy who wore his memories and emotions on his sleeve, Ngor had gone through the same kind of Khymer Rouge horrors as Dith, and later wrote a book about this called “Haing Ngor: A Cambodian Odyssey.” It was ironic as well as extremely tragic that Ngor survived his ghastly Cambodian ordeal only to be killed by Los Angeles gang-bangers during a robbery assault in 1996. Dith said upon his death, “He is like a twin with me…He is like a co-messenger and right now I am alone.”
Now with the 65 year-old Dith gone, it’s as if some kind of circle has been sealed with twin souls laid to rest, paired for eternity.