Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Little Dieter Needs To Fly (1998)

Werner Herzog

Dieter Dengler was born in post-WW2 Germany, moved to America at 18 and enlisted in the Navy to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot. During the Vietnam War his plane was shot down over Laos and he was captured by the Vietcong. Dieter endured 6 months of torture and imprisonment before escaping, he then spent 23 days on the run, surviving monsoons, leeches and machete-wielding villagers before eventually being rescued, weighing just 85 pounds.

This film is essentially a feature length interview with Dieter about his experiences during that time, in which he and Herzog travel back to Laos and re-enact some of the things that Dengler survived 3 decades previously.

It is so beautiful and captivating, a genuine survival story worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster but told with delicate tact by a quirky and charming protagonist. I’m not going to write any more of this because I sound really pretentious, but I this everyone should see this film. If only just to be amazed by how much bad luck one person can experience and still summon the strength to keep moving forward.

Incidentally Herzog actually made a film called Rescue Dawn about Denglers story which starred Christian Bale, who despite being a bit of a nut-bar is an AMAZING actor and the two of them do the story great justice. If I can be bothered I’ll post that movie too. 

But watch this first.