Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos (1998)
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While growing up in desolated post-WW II Germany, all Dieter Dengler, the son of a Nazi slain during the war, dreamed about was becoming a pilot. At age 18, he left his country with only a few cents to his name and emigrated to the U.S. Landing in San Francisco, he worked odd jobs until he was accepted into the Navy and began pilot training. He was sent to Vietnam around 1966 and on his first mission was shot down and taken prisoner. There, the Vietcong tortured and starved him until Dengler engineered a hair-raising escape and eventually returned to the U.S. where his heroic life story has been forgotten until now. Sometimes blurring the lines between fact and fiction with his trademark recurrent themes, this documentary from Werner Herzog remembers the times of the heroic Dengler. The film is divided into four chapters, each representing a period from Dengler's life; the story is recounted via interviews with the Navy pilot, archival footage and new footage seamlessly spliced together. … More
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Critic Reviews for Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos
Werner Herzog's remarkable docu tells with sharp observation and witty humor the heroic tale of the imprisonment and escape of Dieter Dengler, a native German who became an American pilot in the Vietnam War; Dengler exudes plenty of charisma.
A summation of the director's work in so many ways that one is tempted to point the neophyte to it ahead of better-known Herzogs.
A compassionate and personal story of the brutality and oddity of war
Dengler is a marvelous storyteller and opens his heart and soul for Herzog without hesitation.
Death did not want Dieter Dengler, whose life often sounds like that of a fairy tale character thrust into an existential wonderland.
Herzog has likened Dengler's experience to a Greek tragedy, involving dreams, punishment and redemption.
Little Dieter -- just slightly out of the realm of the ordinary -- but not enough to stand among the remarkable, mystical works that Herzog has delivered in the past.
There are a lot of current motion pictures that have had difficulty creating even one compelling character. Little Dieter Needs to Fly has just one subject, but his life could make several interesting movies.
Herzog starts with a balding middle-aged man driving down a country lane in a convertible, and listens, questions and shapes, until the life experience of Dieter Dengler becomes unforgettable.
As often happens in Mr. Herzog's haunting documentaries, the most interesting figure seems to be the one behind the camera.
Audience Reviews for Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos
A fantastic documentary by the master of cinema, Werner Herzog. It?s an honest, unbelievable and amazing story told by Dieter himself. A must see film alongside Rescue Dawn, it?s just brilliant!More
A documentary about a pilot's survival against the odds after being shot down in the Vietnam War. Dieter Dengler's origins in war-torn Germany and his subsequent embrace of the American Dream make his story all the more fascinating. I was worried it was going to turn a bit self-indulgent when Dengler started re-enacting his ordeal in the jungle, but it managed not to. Though he looks remarkably fit and well here, Dengler died of motor neurone disease only four years after this film.More
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