Little Dieter Needs To Fly

  • 1997
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Documentary, War

Even without director Werner Herzog's input, U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler has quite a tale to tell. As a small boy in Wildberg, Germany, Dengler saw Allied aircraft bomb his idyllic Black Forest village halfway to oblivion. Far from traumatizing little Dieter, the experience awoke in him a lifelong passion for flying that would lead Dengler first to the...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Even without director Werner Herzog's input, U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler has quite a tale to tell. As a small boy in Wildberg, Germany, Dengler saw Allied aircraft bomb his idyllic Black Forest village halfway to oblivion. Far from traumatizing little Dieter, the

experience awoke in him a lifelong passion for flying that would lead Dengler first to the United States Navy and then, in 1966, to the war in Southeast Asia. Two hours into his very first combat mission, Dengler was shot down over the Laotian jungle and captured by the North Vietnamese. What

followed can only be described as a nightmare: A horrifying seven-month ordeal of torture, imprisonment and escape that would have left Rambo sobbing like a baby. In many ways, Dengler is the living embodiment of the driven, ferociously resilient characters who people Herzog's fiction films: His

fierce determination and undying passion in the face of overwhelming hardship echo the hellish jungle odysseys of AGUIRRE: WRATH OF GOD and FITZCARRALDO. Strange, then, that Herzog's treatment of Dengler's first-person narration feels so at odds with the man himself. Herzog divides the film into

four chapters, the last two of which -- "Punishment" and "Redemption" -- detail Dengler's imprisonment and eventual rescue. One gets the feeling that the director is looking for one story -- some mythic tale of Icarus-like hubris, mortal ruin and ultimate salvation, perhaps -- while Dengler, with

his air of preternatural calm and his ever-ready smile, is telling another, much more interesting one.

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  • Released: 1997
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Even without director Werner Herzog's input, U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler has quite a tale to tell. As a small boy in Wildberg, Germany, Dengler saw Allied aircraft bomb his idyllic Black Forest village halfway to oblivion. Far from traumatizing little D… (more)

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