Little Dieter needs to Fly
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- Werner Herzog Bio
Top Customer Reviews
We first see Dieter in his house atop a hill outside of San Francisco (he has lived in America for 40 years; the film is in English, there are no subtitles). He talks about how important doors are to him, that he can never take them for granted because when he was in the prison camp he was not able to open or close any doors. He talks about always having plenty of food in the house, even storing extra in the basement, because he never wants to go hungry again.
Then we are in Germany, in the small town where he grew up. He watched planes flying over his town as a boy during World War II. One flew very close to his upstairs window and from that moment he knew he needed to fly. He says he didn't want to go to war, he only wanted to fly. Yet the airplanes he saw as a child, the ones that created the dream in him, were war planes. This is not a simple story. Dieter came to America when he was 18 years old, with no money, speaking only a few words of English, and almost immediately joined the Air Force. But he never got near an airplane. Over time as he learned how things work, he figured out what he needed to do. He moved to California and went to college, living out of a VW van. Then he joined the Navy where at last he learned to fly.Read more ›
It is one of Herzog's best and the fact that everything in it is true is all the more inspiring and sad. I have never seen anything like this. It is not a normal documentary because it is relies on the poetry of images, dialogue and music in ways most fictional films can only inspire to. This is not a film to throw on while you putz around the house but one to watch and embrace with open arms. It intrigues, fascinates and if you open your heart just a little, it just may change your view of the world and those in it. Herzog has said that he wants to give the world new images to dream and think about. And in this film, a true story, he finds images of war and death and beauty and transcedence in the most passionate sense. A must see.
In this film, the good natured subject starts talking at the beginning and never stops -- Herzog has found someone perhaps even more voluble than he is -- and the audience is perfectly set up by his cheerful good naturedness and lucid observations, because by the end of the film we discover just how unimaginably damaged this person has been by life. The unfolding final images of the film are completely striking in the usual Herzogian sense (if you've seen something like "Lessons of Darkness" you'll have some sense of what to expect), but the meaning is ambiguous: is this a kind of heaven for little boys that love to fly? Or is this a hi-tech graveyard ...
Like Herzog's best (e.g. Even Dwarves, Aguirre, Nosferatu, Lessons and My Best Fiend), you simply cannot take your eyes off this movie.
Since his falling out with the major movie studios in his native Germany, Herzog has restricted himself to making documentaries (they're a lot cheaper to produce than dramatic films like Fitzcarraldo or Aguirre), but he brings to them the same passionate commitment and haunting poetic sensibility that informed his famous dramas.
Here the subject is the German-American pilot Dieter Dengler, a man who, as a little boy, fell in love with flight when he made eye contact with the pilot of an Allied plane that was strafing his Bavarian village in WWII. At the age of 18 he moved to America and eventually became a Navy pilot, only to be shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War. Captured by Laotian guerillas and handed over to North Vietnamese soldiers, he endured unbelievable suffering and made a brilliant, heroic escape from a POW camp. Herzog takes Mr. Dengler back to the jungles of Laos to re-enact his ordeals. All this is intercut with scenes from his comfortable home on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County, as well as his quaint little hometown in the Black Forest of Germany. Mr. Dengler is a charming, garrulous raconteur who hardly ever interrupts his fascinating, rapid-fire narration. During those rare moments when he is overcome by emotion and falls silent, it is deeply moving for him and for us. He has clearly suffered much in order to fulfill his dreams of flight. His obsession caused him tremendous pain, but it also saved him.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Any history or aviation buff will like this inspiring true story of a guy with bigger brass ones than 99.99% of us.Published 5 months ago by John J. Elert
True back story of a young boy struck by aviation how, as a US Navy flier, he endured and then escaped from a beastial Viet Cong POW camp. Read morePublished 11 months ago by K. Sherman
Compelling story of a unique and tragic U. S. Navy pilot. Also see Dieter Dengler's book, "Escape From Laos" and "Found Hero: The Greatest Escape of the Vietnam... Read morePublished 12 months ago by william h. hounshell
We bought this documentary along with the movie Rescue Dawn. Little Dieter Needs to Fly is definetly 5 star. Read morePublished 13 months ago by horkazena
Historytold with the man who lived it! Good to hear from the Dieter himself as he retells the story and even brings us back to the places where his story took place, makes it more... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Marie Therese Kceif
This movie is compelling for several reasons as it studies Dieter Dengler's past and present. He is quite an exceptional person for having the terror of observing as the Allied... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Tell Me A Story