Reviewer’s grade: B
Werner Herzog is a great documentarian, and his 1997 film “Little Dieter Needs to Fly” shows him in top form (though 2006’s “Grizzly Man” is even better). The German writer/director is also a fine feature filmmaker, with his best-known films in America appearing in the Seventies and Eighties: “Aguirre: The Wrath of God,” “Nosferatu” and “Fitzcarraldo.” In “Rescue Dawn,” he retells the story of the 1997 documentary with Christian Bale as Dieter Dengler, a German who came to America at 18 to learn to fly.
Shot down over Laos in 1966, Dengler survived the horrors of being a prisoner of war and months hiding in the jungle before being rescued. The fictional version makes for a powerful film experience. Watching the men do what they must to survive makes it also a difficult one. Bale, Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies give strong performances as men pushed to “ and in some cases, beyond “ the ability to endure. PG-13
“Kathryn Jenson White