A TRUE STORY OF SURVIVAL… DECLASSIFIED.
In 1966, U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler’s (Christian Bale) plane is shot down over Laos and he’s soon captured by a Pathet Lao militia group; there are other American prisoners in their camp and Dieter plots an escape… Director Werner Herzog previously chronicled Dengler’s experiences as a POW in a made-for-TV documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1997), but apparently felt the subject was also worthy of a fictionalized feature film. Pretty conventional as far as POW dramas go, but handled the right way they can be very compelling. This one has a sense of humor, even as it turns both gruesome and touching. Exceptionally good performances.
2007-U.S. 126 min. Color. Produced by Elton Brand, Harry Knapp, Steve Marlton. Written and directed by Werner Herzog. Music: Klaus Badelt. Cast: Christian Bale (Dieter Dengler), Steve Zahn (Duane Martin), Jeremy Davies (Gene DeBruin), Galen Yuen, Abhijati “Meuk” Jusakul, Chaiyan “Lek” Chunsuttiwat.
Trivia: Matt Damon was allegedly considered for the lead.
Last word: “It’s a strange coincidence Dieter Dengler as a young man was very handsome, even looked a little bit like Christian. This was not the criterion but it was strange that on location in Thailand, Dieter Dengler’s two sons visited us, two very fine young men, and they were so surprised by Christian and how he acted as Dieter Dengler that by mistake at the dinner table, one said Dad to him and Christian said and I immediately said, ‘We are doing a movie. This is not your dad. Your dad was Dieter’ who had died unfortunately. For them, it felt very much like their own father.” (Herzog, Collider)