Little Dieter Needs To Fly

Little Dieter Needs To Fly


Reviewed by: Trinity

Dieter Dengler is an amazing man. Early in his childhood, he watched Allied planes sweeping past his window in Bavaria, as they strafed Germany's small towns, and from that moment, he knew he needed to fly.

The path to becoming a pilot was not easy. He emigrated to America, joined the Army and ended up peeling potatoes. But his determination saw him through a college degree, entry into the US Navy, and finally, his first mission as a pilot, in Vietnam, February 1966.

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Less than an hour after taking off from his aircraft carrier, Dieter had been shot down. He was captured and tortured for six months until finally being rescued. Despite this, he still wanted to fly.

Werner Herzog retells the life and story of one of the most unusual Vietnam war heros. Dengler is both a humble man and an exceptional storyteller, whether it be his descriptions of the jungles, or his need for freedom, which meant he kept all his doors unlocked. Herzog provides a setting for these stories, by intercutting stock footage with sequences from Dengler's return to the jungle where he was shot down.

This is one of Herzog's best documentaries, possibly because his subject matter strays close to the boundaries of fiction. There is also a close personal connection, as Herzog's childhood was also spent in a remote part of Germany.

Sadly, Dieter died this year and there is a postscript to the film. Before he died, he handed Herzog a manuscript, written in phonetic English, much akin to the writings of Joyce, telling of his experiences in the jungle. Watching this documentary, you get to hear the extraordinary story straight from Dieter's mouth.

Reviewed on: 28 Aug 2001
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Little Dieter Needs To Fly packshot
The life of an extraordinary Vietnam war hero.
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Director: Werner Herzog

Starring: Dieter Dengler

Year: 1997

Runtime: 74 minutes

Country: US


EIFF 2001

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