“The Killing Fields: A film (1984) based on the real-life relationship between US journalist Sidney Schanberg and his Cambodian translator Dith Pran following the withdrawal of US personnel from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 1975. The plot recounts Schanberg’s attempts to locate Pran after the latter is seized for ‘re-education’ by the communist Khmer Rouge. The ‘killing fields’ of the title were the paddy fields around Phnom Penh in which the Khmer Rouge executed their opponents. The part of Dith Pran was played by Haing S. Ngor, a doctor who had himself fled from the Khmer Rouge. In reality Dith Pran saw the killing fields himself only when he visited them in as mayor of his home town, long after the Khmer Rouge had been thrown out. The phrase has since become a journalistic cliché.”
Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.