What movie was that...?

12 August 2009

Little Dieter Needs to Fly/Rescue Dawn

directed by Werner Herzog

Is there any director out there who is willing to go to greater lengths than Werner Herzog when it comes to capturing the essence of a story? I think not. In that spirit, Herzog takes the subject of his riveting doc back into the jungles of Vietnam where he was a POW after being shot down during the Vietnam War. As Dieter walks the audience through the various ways in which he was tortured, demonstrates how to break out of handcuffs, and explains why he now stores pounds and pounds of dried food in his cellar, you can’t help but watch in amazement at his candor, and his courage for revisiting what was clearly a harrowing chapter of his life. What resonates from this doc is the fortitude of the human spirit, the horrors it will endure and the triumph of life earned at any cost.

With subject matter as juicy as this, it is no wonder Herzog chose to revisit Dieter’s story again, this time in the form of a narrative film, Rescue Dawn. Like Steven Soderberg’s Che, Rescue Dawn is a stellar example of solid, no nonsense talent working together to make a film so good that no one seemed to notice. For shame, public. Christian Bale is the essence of Dieter, embodying sheer will and optimism in the face of absolute tragedy. Think Bale’s accent is goofy? Give the doc a watch and listen to Dieter, then think again. Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies play fellow POWs clinging to life against all odds, eating bugs for sustenance and plotting an escape that may never come. Hats off to Zahn and Davies for delivering haunting performances that linger in your mind. Rescue Dawn compliments Little Dieter needs to Fly in all the right ways, and to watch only one is like buying 250 pieces of a 500 piece puzzle (Really, did he just make a puzzle reference? Why am I reading this?).

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