Rescue Dawn (2006) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A U.S. fighter pilot's epic struggle of survival after being shot down on a mission over Laos during the Vietnam War.

  • In 1965, while bombing Laos in a classified mission, the propeller plane of the German-American US Navy pilot Dieter Dengler is hit and crashes in the jungle. Dieter is arrested by the peasants, tortured by the Vietcong and sent to a prisoner camp, where he meets five other mentally deranged prisoners and guards. He becomes close to Duane and organizes an escape plan; however, the unstable Gene opposes to Dieter's plan. When they discover that there is no more food due to the constant American bombings in the area and their guards intend to kill them, Dieter sets his plan in motion. However, an unexpected betrayal splits the group and Dieter and Duane find that the jungle is their actual prison.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • An account of the true story of personal bravery and comradeship in the early days of the Vietnam War; the story follows the experiences of Lt. Dieter Dengler whose Navy propeller plane is shot down in 1965 over Laos and taken prisoner by Pathet Lao (with Vietcong irregulars.) In a story that should not be classified as either pro or anti war, it explores the psychological tragedies of war for all involved, and specifically the torturous personal trials of combatants in this disastrous event. The characters efforts at escape into the countryside while debating the personal consequences make this film a more realistic example of personalities and conflicts among prisoners pushed to their mental limits. The lush jungle contrasted against the raw human struggles of both sides make this a good yet simple portrayal of the early days of the Vietnam heartbreak. (SPOILER) The story of Dengler's rescue does show the inept and stupid bureaucratic incompetence that makes this story just a small part of a this historic American tragedy.

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