Friday, October 2, 2009

Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997)

Director: Werner Herzog. Cast: Dieter Dengler, Werner Herzog (narrator). 80 min. Documentary.

It happens every single time: when I watch a documentary by the great Herzog, I go into a trance. It happened in "Grizzly Man", it happened in "Encounters at the End of the World", and it happened again here. Herzog's static camera and his own mesmerizing German accent always gives the film a crude, straight-to-the-fact directness. Herzog's favorite "man against nature" theme successfully repeats itself here, telling the true story of a Vietnam POW. Apparently the story was so engaging, Herzog dramatized it in "Rescue Dawn" (2006), with Christian Bale in the lead.

PS: If you ever watch it, make sure you wait till the end of the end credits.

Mo says:


  1. You know, i guess beyound this fact that he is a great storyteller of all things that nobody heard or ever seen previously , a significant point for such hypnotic state goes back to the sound track...i got facinated every time i see this wonderful mixture of images and sound together.Especially, when it's going to be strange like Mongolian song in this film or Russian church music in "Encounters at the End of the World. I saw an interview 1 hour with Herzog(as an attached dvd to the main movie),which was begining with dedication of this film to Roger Ebert and then after brief history of making movie in south pole and its hardships and some memories, he exactely mentioned his extraordinary interest to choose and put soundtrack on his movies by his own, without any assistance ir confirmaton from Editor or any music composer or getting any idea from around , just by himself...most of the interview was focus on his passion toward the music.Amazing!Isn't it?
    Anyway, as it was expected i attracted to the documentary version (former version ) much more than drama(Rescue down- latter version ) which i had watched already at first. I liked the style of telling story that real character goes to original place and review his traumatic memories by just fast talking and body language mostly in is extremly touching ,because its real and in front of reality, the effect of drama (of same plot) comes down or at least that's the way i feel now!

  2. Sometimes I think to myself: does Herzog know about the hypnotic states he creates in his movies, or does this feeling come naturally from his stories? Does he do this knowingly, or is it unintentional? For instance, as you mentioned, does his choice of music contribute to the feeling, or his gruff German accent ... which he definitely knows is strange for English-speaking audiences? Does he fixate the camera on his characters for long scenes just to create that effect, or does he think it would be wrong to do it in any other way? Whatever the motivation is, I love the result.

  3. And btw, I agree: the documentary based on the story is much better than the feature film. In fact, I'm not sure why Herzog made the feature film, while the documentary was already far superior. He must be obsessed with his stories.

    Aren't all great filmmakers?