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Little Dieter needs to Fly

4.6 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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(Jan 08, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Inspired the New Film RESCUE DAWN starring Chirstian Bale (Batman Begins), Steve Zahn (Sahara), Jeremy Davies (Secretary) in theaters December 1, 2006. Directed by Werner Herzog


"Unforgettable...Astonishing" -- Roger Ebert

Special Features

  • Werner Herzog Bio

Product Details

  • Actors: Eugene Deatrick, Dieter Dengler
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: January 8, 2002
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000059PPO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,451 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Little Dieter needs to Fly" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
As the documentary begins, we hear Werner Herzog's voice telling us that there are events in some people's lives that haunt them forever, but that if we pass these people on the street or in their car, we would never know it, for they appear normal. That in part is what this movie is about. It's also about how a dream might come to us and take hold of us, and how if we are determined to make the dream come true we can never know where it will lead, just as we can never fully understand why the dream came to us in the first place.
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.
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Format: DVD
This is one of the most powerful films one will ever see, period.
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.
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Format: DVD
This is simply an astonishing film from Herzog. For those who are familiar with Herzog, he has once again found a character - in this case Dieter Dengler - who becomes more and more fascinating upon closer examination. Herzog's films always have the sense of being impressionistic -- he throws the images up on the screen, and they may not always follow each other in a linear fashion, but they nearly always have a sustained, cumulative effect that, by the end of the film, is deeply emotional and troubling.
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.
Have fun!
1 Comment 43 of 45 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on May 1, 2004
Format: DVD
Director Werner Herzog is obsessed with obsession. Practically all his films feature protagonists in the grip of a passion so powerful that it creates ruin for them and everyone around them. Yet it also creates a sort of tragic grandeur. The viewer feels that, in some strange inexplicable way, it was worth all the pain and suffering involved.
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.
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