Bruce Robinson’s name is synonymous with eighties cult comedies Withnail & I and How To Get Ahead In Advertising, yet it was his screenplay for distressing Cambodian war film The Killing Fields (1984) that launched his career.

The screenplay garnered him nominations at the Academy Awards and Golden Globes along with a BAFTA win.

Robinson’s opening lines, spoken in voice over by Sam Waterstone in his breakthrough role, succinctly set up the political and emotional threads of the film:
‘Cambodia. To many westerners it seemed a paradise. Another world, a secret world. But the war in neighbouring Vietnam burst its borders, and the fighting soon spread to neutral Cambodia. In 1973 I went to cover this side-show struggle as a foreign correspondent of the New York Times. It was there, in the war-torn country side amidst the fighting between government troops and the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, that I met my guide and interpreter, Dith Pran, a man who was to change my life in a country I grew to love and pity.’
What follows is a powerful humanist exploration of the Cambodian civil war, Pol Pot’s brutal re-education camps and ‘Year Zero’ philosophy.

In a brand new interview included on the 30th Anniversary issue of The Killing Fields (released on Blu-Ray in the UK on 3rd November), Robinson describes how he became involved in the film, his research-heavy approach and his passion for telling this story of the Cambodian people. Robinson also talks about his experiences meeting Sydney Schanberg and Dith Pran, on whose story the film is based, and discusses the toning down of Schanberg’s guilt in the final version of the film.

You can read my full review of The Killing Fields at Gorilla Film Mag here.

The 30th Anniversary Edition of The Killing Fields is released by STUDIOCANAL on Blu-Ray on 3rd November 2014 (UK).