In 1965, while bombing Laos in a classified mission, the propeller plane of the German-American US Navy pilot Dieter Dengler is hit and crashes in the jungle. Dieter is arrested by the peasants, tortured by the Vietcong and sent to a prisoner camp, where he meets five other mentally deranged prisoners and guards. He becomes close to Duane and organizes an escape plan; however, the unstable Gene opposes to Dieter's plan. When they discover that there is no more food due to the constant American bombings in the area and their guards intend to kill them, Dieter sets his plan in motion. However, an unexpected betrayal splits the group and Dieter and Duane find that the jungle is their actual prison.Written by
PHD, in CT USA
The blue truck taking Dengler from the village in the beginning is clearly a contemporary model, not a 1960-era model. See more »
In 1965, few people believed that the still limited conflict in Viet Nam would turn into full scale war. / One of the first signs of what lay ahead was America's bombing of secret targets inside Laos.
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If you choose to accept art from someone, you form a life bond with them, I believe. My notions of just what this bond are, evolve over time. For the moment, it seems to me that what your artistic companions do afterward matters. It matters a lot, especially if you work with life as something dynamic, with revolutionary surprises and insights.
The tools you previously used are all interlinked, have a life of their own, and modify each other. As you change, perhaps grow, you are entangled with all the others you have accepted.
I view Herzog films all out of order, and arranged to suit my life, not his. Some of them have been life-altering, and I believe that part of that comes from the immense risks involved. Some other of his projects, both his and others in which he participates, have rewarded with sly cleverness, new folds.
And then there are the more recent ones. They show extremes but are not extreme in themselves. They show interesting men (always men), but themselves are uninteresting. Is it mere age? Is it that he has personal life with a meaningful woman at last? Is it that he has left Germany behind, with all that it carries?
I cannot say. But I do know that when you invest so much, a film like this can ruin your day.
Its a rambling epic, parts not quite related to one another narratively. Its almost a documentary as Herzog likes to make. Things happen, and then other things that are not arranged for the convenience of the filmmaker. The actors are magnificent in their roles by conventional measures. Surely you can see that they are committed and mostly believable. The jungle impinges much like the South American jungle does in Fitz and Aguirre.
I'm sure Herzog believes this to be as intense, as engaged. And that's the disappointment because maybe it is. And we've all moved a bit and need some opera in the jungle.
I append a recommendation to each comment. I do this because people ask me to, but its complicated, no? This is a worthy film, but I will recommend either that you see earlier films and not this, or vice versa. It'll help keep you sane.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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