Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos


Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos (1998)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


Want to See

Not Interested

Add Rating
My Rating    

Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos Photos

Movie Info

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.

Watch it now


News & Interviews for Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos

Critic Reviews for Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

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.

Feb 15, 2007 | Rating: B
Top Critic

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.

Apr 20, 2001 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

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.

Apr 20, 2001 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

As often happens in Mr. Herzog's haunting documentaries, the most interesting figure seems to be the one behind the camera.

Apr 20, 2001 | Rating: 3/5

A stunning tale of survival.

Oct 21, 2005 | Rating: A | Full Review…

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.

Jun 21, 2005 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos

An absolute must-see for those who liked Rescue Dawn as it tells the same story - but right from the mouth of Dengler. It's shocking to hear what he went through. It's also a Herzog documentary and therefore obviously brilliant.

Marcus Woolcott
Marcus Woolcott

Super Reviewer

Very insightful doc as Dieter Dengler retells his story of being a POW during Vietnam.

Wu Chouin
Wu Chouin

Super Reviewer

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.

Stephen M
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

Effortlessly compelling true story of US-German POW.

William Goss
William Goss

Super Reviewer

Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Escape from Laos Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features