This is the unbelievable true story of Dieter Dengler, who fulfilled his life dream of becoming a fighter pilot—a dream which was shattered only a few days into his first tour of duty in the Vietnam War, when he was shot down over Laos…
In both his docs and his features, Werner Herzog is a director drawn to obsession, to the way madness and ecstasy can run so close together. This incredible tale of a prisoner of war is one of his finest films. And it exemplifies Herzog’s documentary M.O.: to relate life by turning it into art.
"How Dieter Dengler has been able to cope with all of this remains a mystery. He hides behind the casual remark that this was the fun part of his life." The casual matter-of-fact way in which he related his story was amazing. An unspoken message to just live your life as best you can with a positive outlook, even when horrible things happen.
Worth watching just for Herzog's commentary on the jungle survival informational video. This is a gem of a movie. A piece that should be considered necessary viewing in the historical war film's upper echelon.
Herzog's best doc? The argument can be made. What seems to fascinate him about this case isn't simply the crazy truth of Dieter's story, but the way the man—who's seen more pain than most of us can ever imagine—lets his memories flow back through him without letting them conquer him. With another documentarian, you might get a bizarre true story. With Herzog, you get at something indefinable about human nature.
Extraordinary things happening to ordinary people are remarkably common, but Dengler is an extraordinary man revealed through extraordinary circumstances. Although molded by adversity, he wasn't broken or corrupted by it; in a similar way, Herzog's creative "collaborations" with the narrative don't affect the essence of wide-eyed Little Dieter. Fly on, Little Dieter...