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Swimming To Cambodia (1987)

Spalding Gray , Jonathan Demme  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Spalding Gray
  • Directors: Jonathan Demme
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • DVD Release Date: May 28, 2013
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00BCMT4Z2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,170 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

Audio Commentary By Director Jonathan Demme

Editorial Reviews

Swimming to Cambodia is a 1987 film directed by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) in which actor Spalding Gray performs an amusing monologue that mostly recounts his trip to Southeast Asia to create the role of the U.S. Ambassador's aide in the 1984 Oscar-winning film The Killing Fields.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic December 3, 2004
Format:DVD
Swimming to Cambodia was my introduction to the late, great Spalding Gray and it was a great one. I had previously had the misguided idea that monolouges were dull and not the proper subject matter for film. Happily, Mr.Gray proved me wrong with this one performance that is both thoughtful and hilarious. His vivid storytelling and animated delivery create lasting images in the mind of the viewer, so don't let the fact that this movie takes place entirely behind a desk hinder your enjoyment of the story. It's a classic.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An all-time favorite--and yes, I have friends, too! December 1, 2004
Format:DVD
Ok, so I couldn't just let this go by without doing something. One opinion does not a ratings system make, so allow a tempered voice of reason to enter the field and bring that "1 star" rating up a notch or two for a very deserving film. Having first seen "The Killing Fields" many times, I was fascinated to come across this little gem. While yes, it is true that Gray sits behind a desk most of the time and talks, that is what makes this film so special. Yes, it's a one-person show, but what's wrong with that if what the person has to say is engaging, stimulating and thought-provoking? I welcome the opportunity to spend time once in awhile listening to someone spin a yarn about their adventures, misadventures and epiphanies. I recommend you first watch "The Killing Fields", an excellent movie based on a true story, and then wait a day or two before sinking into the sofa with a big tub o'microwave popcorn and this dvd.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Intensive January 15, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Yes, it is a documentary and, yes, it is a monologue. Yes, he discusses the sex trade in Cambodia which is extemely explicit. But this is about Cambodia. This is about the Killing Fields. This is about our involvement in that history. There is nothing gratuitous. Gray is captivating as he sits on a darkened stage with his words and topics accented with strategic lighting, maps, sounds and video clips. You will leave this film with a new understanding of what happened from Cambodia to Kent State. He also has a unique insight into mankind. In this, his "Talking Cure", you will be compelled to try to answer the question that he wrestles with - 'Is morality a moving feast?'. This is an important film.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNFORGETTABLE!!! November 22, 1998
By D. Benz
Format:VHS Tape
This film blew me away. This guy sits behind a small desk on-stage in a small auditorium with a couple of maps of Southeast Asia behind him and talks for two hours. Spalding Gray's descriptions of Phuket, Thailand beat any travelogue hands-down. His oral history of Cambodia is as fascinating as it is succinct. His word-pictures and imagery of his experiences in Southeast Asia, on the train from Philadelphia to Chicago, and in his girlfriend's downtown New York neighborhood display his mastery of the art of storytelling. You don't just hear it, you experience it! This film is worth playing again and again and again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important films of our time March 12, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Swimning to Cambodia is unquestionably one of the most important films of our time. It will shake you out of the duldrums of hyped up action / dude films and the inanity of chic flicks, and actually make you open your brain (no spoon feeding here). If you choose to close down after the film is over, that is your choice, but if you pay attention to the film and let it take you where it inevitably will, you will be forever changed. This is not a film that will require thought to watch; it is a film that will you require you to think when it has finished. Spalding Gray's insight into the human prospect and what "the killing fields" (read Vietnam) did to the world is compelling, and maybe for some, hits too close to home. Don't expect Saplding Gray to pull his punches here...don't expect the humor inherent in Monster In A Box; it is not there. Swimning To Cambodia is raw, intelligent and not for even one second does it hold back. It will probably never get the recognition it deserves, but make no mistake about it this is one of the most important films of all time, and missing it becasue there are a few swear words, or the content bothers you, is simply weakness and an inability to face the ugliness of the American Dream, and the consequences, and responsibilities that come along with it.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story as told by a madman. January 27, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is simply amazing. Spalding Gray sits behind a small wooden desk with a glass of water and talks. Sounds simple right? Well you just have to experience his twisted perception of reality to understand. After this, you'll want to seek out every monologue he's done, as I have.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Junk quality BOOTLEG November 12, 2011
Format:DVD
Don't be fooled: this is a garbage-quality DVD-R bootleg, "mastered" from the old VHS. I know people are desperate to see this great, great film in the digital format (obviously I'm a big fan myself), but be patient and DON'T waste your money.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling and captivating February 13, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
First of all this is a monologue and I usually hate monologues. The first time I watched this was starting at midnight and I was quite tired. I was expecting to fall asleep to it but found myself wide awake and engrossed. I was absolutely mesmerized by this performance. Spalding Gray just captivates you from the very beginning and holds your attention all the way through. He mixes it with bits of wry comedy and anecdotes, and mixes in a bit of history and politics for good measure. He actually brings you to the places he is talking about, its like you can see Thailand and experience the production of the Killing Fields.

Mr. Gray talks not as someone talking from note cars or a pre planned speech but from someone telling you about a great adventure. He has a natural and easy going style that makes you very comfortable. His energy and passion is contagious. The may is a born storyteller and narrator.

It is one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen and I am usually an action movie kind of guy. I had never even heard of Spalding Gray before this nor had I seen the Killing Fields. But after watching I rented the killing fields and researched Mr. Gray.

There is great lighting and film style to go along with it. Even though he's just sitting at a desk they add an exciting mood to it.

Its ashamed that Spalding Gray is no longer with us as I found the man intensely interesting. I would highly recommend the VHS/DVD to anyone. I don't know how well it would be in a book as much of the attraction is Spalding himself. The man was simply amazing in this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A classic monologue!
Published 12 days ago by Dana Ross Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Swimming to cambodia
I saw this movie/documentary/satire years back. I am sorry that it took Spaulding Gray''s death to bring out all his work and believe there is not enough. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mary
5.0 out of 5 stars Become familiar...
Spalding Gray's work and genius is without question... Too soon gone... One of those artists, that once familiar with, will be forever Loved...
Published 5 months ago by Jeff Bernstein
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sweet Legacy of a Modern Bard
For those not familiar with Spalding Gray, he was a theatric artist and story teller of the highest calibre. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Teja McDaniel
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
I stumbled across Swimming to Cambodia late one night on TV - I was about to go to bed, but I found myself held spellbound by Spalding Gray's tales and had to watch until the end. Read more
Published 12 months ago by A. Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars Killer
If you have taste, get this . If you don't work in the film business and want to know what it's like to shoot on a distant location, get this. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Webay
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and tragic, pathetic and profound...
The most spellbinding 87-minute monologue ever. Still sound uninteresting? Read on. Yes, Spaulding Gray is seated at a desk in a theater with only a microphone, a notebook and a... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Dolphin
5.0 out of 5 stars I had forgotten how wonderful this was
I saw this film when it first came out, decades ago, and haven't seen it since. I just watched it again tonight and fell in love with it again. Read more
Published 19 months ago by carol irvin
5.0 out of 5 stars Different Kind of Movie
I'd been waiting for the chance to acquire a copy of this, having seen it in the theater. Hey, I like it a lot!
Published on July 5, 2010 by bunbun43
5.0 out of 5 stars AAHAHAHAHAH
I hope the seller isn't hoping for a quick sale, since I can rent this masterwork for $3.99 from Netflix. Really.
Published on August 12, 2009 by Kurtislee
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