Customer Review

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dramatization of a real prisoner of war story set in Laos 1966, December 9, 2007
This review is from: Rescue Dawn (DVD)
Werner Herzog is a wonderful filmmaker and everything he does is worth seeing. This movie is a dramatization of the events recounted in his 1997 documentary "Little Dieter Needs to Fly". Because it is a dramatization, some of the events in the movie are conflated, and some of the characters are different than the real life people with those names. For example, Jeremy Davies gives a wonderful performance as Eugene McBruin. In the movie, McBruin provides threats and resistance to what Dengler is trying to do to survive. He comes across as weak, broken by years of captivity, and unnecessarily contrary to the idea of escape. However, his family rejects that portrayal. This is an especially important point because there were reports of his being alive and in Laos until the 1990s.

The dramatizations aside, this is a very good movie. Dengler was a German who was a child at the end of World War II. His hometown was on the receiving end of air attacks from the allies and a particularly low and close flight by one pilot transformed Dieter and form that moment on he needed to fly. He emigrated to the United States and joined the military so he could fly. As the movie portrays, he was shot down in February 1966 and eventually captured, tortured, and imprisoned in Laos.

Eventually, he and his fellow inmates made a plan for escape and the latter half of the movie recounts that attempt in June 1966 and what happened afterwards. The story is quite intense and Christian Bale does a fine job portraying Dengler. Steve Zahn gives a very moving and emotional performance as Duane Martin, Dengler's closes friend among the prisoners. Obviously, Dengler escaped and survived and we share the delight of his former crew when he returns to the ship. And we share Dengler's sorrow at the loss and pain he suffered in captivity and during the difficult escape process.

In real life, Dengler left the service and became a test pilot and survived four additional crashes. He later became a pilot for TWA. He died of Lou Gherig's disease in 2001.

I give this movie a strong recommendation.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Ann Arbor, MI
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 10, 2007 8:47:31 AM PST
M. A HERBST says:
Excellent review - just one criticism. Eugene's last name is McBruin, not McBroom. It's too bad that Herzog didn't smooth things out with Gene's family beforehand. I'm sure an accord could have been reached on the portrayal of McBruin before the film was finalized.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2007 8:52:53 AM PST
Thanks for your kind and helpful comment. I have fixed the name and apologize for my careless mistake.
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Reviewer

Craig Matteson
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Location: Saline, MI

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