8.1/10
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Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography, Drama | 2 October 1998 (USA)
German-American Dieter Dengler discusses his service as an American naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Vietcong, recreating many events for the camera.

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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 5 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Dieter Dengler ...
Himself
...
Himself / Narrator (voice)
Eugene Deatrick ...
Himself
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Storyline

In 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over Laos, captured, and, down to 85 pounds, escaped. Barefoot, surviving monsoons, leeches, and machete-wielding villagers, he was rescued. Now, near 60, living on Mt. Tamalpais, Dengler tells his story: a German lad surviving Allied bombings in World War II, postwar poverty, apprenticed to a smith, beaten regularly. At 18, he emigrates and peels potatoes in the U.S. Air Force. He leaves for California and college, then enlistment in the Navy to learn to fly. A quiet man of sorrows tells his story: war, capture, harrowing conditions, escape, and miraculous rescue. Where did he find the strength; how does he now live with his memories? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

2 October 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Flucht aus Laos  »

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1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film begins with this quote: "And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die and death shall flee from them. - Revelation 9:6". See more »

Quotes

Dieter Dengler: Duane, my friend, he was gone, and from then on my motions, my progress, became mechanical. In fact, I couldn't care less if I would live or die. But then later on, there was this bear, this beautiful bear that was following me. It was circling me in fact sometimes. It was gone and I missed it. It was just like a dog, it was just like a pet. Of course I knew this bear was there, he was waiting to eat me. When I think about it, this bear meant death to me. And it is really ironic. That's the ...
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Connections

Featured in 50 Documentaries to See Before You Die: Episode 1 (2011) See more »

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User Reviews

 
a surreal documentary about a German American who needs food and flight
6 August 2002 | by (Iowa City, IA, U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

Werner Herzog again explores the psyche of a man. In "Little Dieter...", we meet an effervescent, brilliant man who survived the war in Bavaria seeing starvation and strange sights, moved to the U.S. and fulfilled his dream of being a flier. War, food, death, survival, hoarding, planes, heads coming off... how one American is born. Herzog again sees madness as plane of existence and the surreal blends with the poignant as Herzog himself narratives this psychic travelogue of a German becoming an American who flies prop planes in a late 20th century war where the culmination of technology, pilgrimage and eating out of garbage cans with spoons is melded with constant optimism into a man redefined into American. As always with Herzog we are faced with florid madness, brilliance and what is man in the face of his own excesses, societal and personal. We laugh and cringe and are amazed at this man. Where else for this man but America?


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