In 1997, Werner Herzog made a documentary about the German-born US Air Force pilot Dieter Dengler, entitled Little Dieter Needs to Fly. Herzog's fascination with the life story and the character of Dengler is understandable for those who know his oeuvre. Dengler was the first American prisoner who ever successfully escaped from the Pathet Lao, the Laotian communists. After being shot down on a secret mission above Laos, he found himself in a prison camp where he and the other prisoners were tortured and almost died of starvation. And the jungle that separated them from the border with Thailand, as Dengler also knew, was not friendlier than the cruel guards.
Here comes the feature version, made in the Thai jungle under more than difficult conditions - as could be expected. Beautifully shot by his intrepid cameraman Peter Zeitlinger, the result is a grand and exciting, physical and intense epic à la Herzog.
Alongside praise for the fascinating supporting roles by Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies among others, Christian Bale’s performance as Dieter has rightly been compared with the great roles by Klaus Kinski in Herzog's Aguirre or Fitzcarraldo. Bale radiates an optimistic vitality that becomes an ecstatic urge to survive as circumstances continue to turn against him. Even if you know the ending in advance, it isn’t often that you so wholeheartedly wish it to come true... (GT)

Filmmaker
Werner Herzog
Premiere
European première
Country
USA
Year
2006
Medium
35mm
Length
120’
Language
English
Producer
Steve Marlton, Elton Brand
Production Company
Gibraltar Entertainment & Production LLC
Sales
Conquistador Entertainment
Writer
Werner Herzog
Cinematography
Peter Zeitlinger
Editor
Joe Bini
Production Design
Arin 'Aoi' Pinijvararak
Sound Design
Paul Paragon
Music
Klaus Badelt
Cast
Jeremy Davies, Christian Bale
Website
http://wernerherzog.com