Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Rescue Dawn


For Werner Herzog, this qualifies as an easy shoot, in Thailand, involving not much more than poisonous snakes, leeches, and one puny little waterfall. Herzog is a madman, mostly in a good way, who is fascinated by the extremes of human behavior and survival. Here he tells the story of Dieter Dengler (and I’m sorry, that name just sounds nasty, doesn’t it? “Hey, your deiter’s dengling, dude!”), who escaped from a prison in Laos back before we were even calling that little dustup in Southeast Asia a war. He was shot down on his very first combat mission, which was secret. This was not Stalag 17. It wasn’t even the Hanoi Hilton. It was just a little shithole in the jungle where the guards didn’t have much more food than the 6 prisoners. Herzog told some of the story before, in documentary form, in Little Dieter Needs to Fly (Flucht aus Laos), and apparently Dieter’s ordeal was even worse than is portrayed here, and here it’s pretty bad. His are the only real heroics on display. Being imprisoned in a place like this is enough to break the spirit of 99% of men, I’d think. Like they say, the jungle is the prison.