The Killing Fields was a powerful and moving work of cinema which brought the horrendous actions of the Khmer Rouge to a mass audience. Writer and actor Spalding Gray played an aide to the US Ambassador in Roland Joffé’s film. He used his experiences gained from his time in Southeast Asia to create a four hour theatre piece, and also a book.
Jonathan Demme’s Swimming to Cambodia is an 85 minute performance, filmed as a live show, which feels much like a theatre piece. Soundtracked by Laurie Anderson, and supported by two maps and archive footage, Gray proceeds to deliver an entertaining monologue. Feeling like a stream of consciousness, he covers his time filming The Killing Fields, the history and genocide in Cambodia, The Cold War and his quest for the perfect moment.
Swimming to Cambodia is an entertaining ride, full of interesting insights and amusing moments. Gray is a consummate performer, and Demme holds it all together beautifully.
Swimming to Cambodia is released on DVD by Simply Media on March 16.