Review: Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)

(Note: this capsule review is part of my farewell to the Netflix DVD service. #GetThroughMyQueue)

Werner Herzog is such a prolific filmmaker, I suppose I could have filled up much of my queue with his films, because, although I’ve seen dozens, there’s way more that I haven’t seen.

This particular film has bounced in and out of Netflix’s “very long wait,” so I was happy to have it finally pop up (to be followed by his docudrama treatment of the same subject, Rescue Dawn).

“Little Dieter” himself is the compelling ingredient of this, a German immigrant to America whose ambition to take to the skies led him into the U.S. Navy and war in Southeast Asia. You also quickly realize that Herzog, who serves as the narrator, finds a certain kinship with this man reflecting on an almost unimaginably brutal period of his life.

The recreations, with Dieter dryly explaining to us, the audience, are compelling: at times bizarre, at times frightening, and at all times matter-of-fact. Folks who want to make their non-fiction engaging should take note.

Does everything I want a documentary to do and does it with that Werner Herzog flair. Four out of five stars. Stay for the epilogue.

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