Little Dieter Needs to Fly
Director: Werner Herzog
Germany/UK/France / 1997 / 80 min
In German and English with English subtitles
Dieter Dengler, a German-born U.S. Navy pilot who was shot down and taken prisoner by the Pathet Lao during his first mission in Vietnam, proved such a fascinating subject for Herzog that he made not one but two films about him: this documentary, followed by a narrative version, Rescue Dawn, nearly 10 years later (and five years after Dengler’s death). Little Dieter Needs to Fly incorporates both home-movie and archival footage to relate the details of his early World War II life, as well as newly created scenes of the good-natured Dengler, then in his fifties, back in Laos and Thailand with Herzog to relate and sometimes reconstruct the events of his traumatic time there, including his capture, torture, and miraculous escape from the POW camp. Restoration courtesy of Shout! Factory and the American Genre Film Archive.