Little Dieter Needs To Fly

6.5/10 based on 7 votes

In 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over Laos, captured, and, down to 85 pounds, escaped. Barefoot, surviving monsoons, leeches, and machete-wielding villagers, he was rescued.

Now, near 60, living on Mt. Tamalpais, Dengler tells his story: a German lad surviving Allied bombings in World War II, postwar poverty, apprenticed to a smith, beaten regularly. At 18, he emigrates and peels potatoes in the U.S. Air Force. He leaves for California and college, then enlistment in the Navy to learn to fly.

A quiet man of sorrows tells his story: war, capture, harrowing conditions, escape, and miraculous rescue. Where did he find the strength; how does he now live with his memories?

Director/Writer: Werner Herzog. Broadcast 1997.

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  • Viking

    Awesome! I recognized the throat singing as Huun-Huur-Tu from Kyzyl, Republic of Tuva, Russia.

    That was a very interesting mix of the napalm dropping while the throat singing was playing in the background. I had run across Huun-Huur-Tu on accident at YouTube earlier this year. I had been looking for hurdy gurdy musicians originally. It’s amusing how things pan out and what discoveries are accidentally made from casual research.

    I liked the documentary very much and had never thought of someone of his German background being in the Vietnam conflict on the U.S. side. My father was over there and had told me often how bad it could get. I feel sorry for Dieter having to suffer through his experience. Hell of a price to pay for wanting to fly.

    • Cool Blue

      I love Tuva throat singing and it was perfect for this doc. Thanks for adding the link.

  • Zsuzsanna

    Oh, big OCD. Poor man. Had to go through all that.

  • Cool Blue

    Had to watch through YouTube as only the first part played on this website. Brilliant Herzog doc. The more I see of Herzog the more I like his work. Amazing story, very well told.

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