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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 a U.S. naval pilot in the Vietnam War. Dengler also revisits the sites of his capture and eventual escape from the hands of the Viet Cong, recreating many events for the camera.

Director:

Werner Herzog

Writer:

Werner Herzog
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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 ... Self
Werner Herzog ... Self - Narrator (voice)
Eugene Deatrick Eugene Deatrick ... Self
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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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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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 »

Goofs

The Movie Poster shows what's actually a German Luftwaffe aircraft painted with US markings. See more »

Quotes

Dieter Dengler: I don't think of myself as a hero. No, only dead people are heroes.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The DVD release adds an epilogue which tells of Dieter Dengler's death from ALS in February 2001 and shows footage of his burial at Arlington National Cemetary. See more »


Soundtracks

Juventud Tango
Written by Carlos Gardel
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User Reviews

Little Herzog Needs to Fly....Nice.
28 December 2003 | by SinnermanSee all my reviews

After I finished watching this intriguing documentary, I wondered; how much of Little Dieter was in Herzog, and vice versa? For Werner Herzog(and Dieter likewise) seemed capable of evoking a whole spectrum of human emotions in his works, however idiosyncratic they looked on the surface.

In this story of an American immigrant from Germany, who piloted a plane in Nam, got shot down, interned, escaped and survived, we got to see how the man lived, before, during and after this arduous period of ordeal. All that insurmountable pain and uphill battles might not have fazed the man, but it certainly took its toll. Memories of these experiences continue to haunt his being. Case in point, due in part to enduring that period of torture and starvation, the man now stocked his cellar with lotsa food in case he's ever locked in....

Could the above have been a reason why Herzog chose to film this man? A man seemingly steeped in personality dysfunctions but was in fact merely a wounded man living his life, the only way he knew how? Could it be that Dieter's story also somehow mirrored Herzog's life and outlook? Damned if I am to know the answers to these universal mysteries...

Much had been said about the questionable sanity of Werner Herzog. But during my intensive devouring of his films over this last week, I began to see a pattern unravelling. This man had many profound insights to share with us all about humanity. And they often transcended intellectual boundaries. Through those intangibly twisted tales he weaved, he conveyed his ideas to us all lucidly, impactfully. And he did them all without ever gauzing the profusion in his bleeding heart. This man was never afraid of showing his earnest emotions nor was he afraid of breaking cinematic conventions. If one cared enough to be touched by the man, he or she will do so without safety nets. I did. Nice.

Yes, its no longer fashionable in these times of impenetrable cynicism to embrace a man like Werner Herzog. But I am fascinated by this psycho visionary nonetheless. And I will follow the man to the very pits of wherever he's heading. As long as its somewhere I'm willing to go, that is....heh.


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Details

Country:

Germany | UK | France

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

2 October 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Flucht aus Laos See more »

Filming Locations:

San Francisco, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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