Time has revealed Werner Herzog’s greatest artwork to be himself; his movies are always about himself more than anything else. So what makes Little Dieter stand out is that its subject, Dieter Dengler, for once trumps Herzog at his own game, making the director take backseat. (You might argue that Klaus Kinski did the same thing, but Kinski always looks to me trapped in Herzog’s films, even the really great ones. Plus, as great as Kinski was, you can always see that he’s acting. That’s not a problem per se—Kinski was a great actor—but Dengler is less acting than simply being, and it’s beautiful to see.)
Herzog later remade this as Rescue Dawn (2006), starring Batman. I haven’t seen it and I always confuse its title with Saving Grace (2007), which I always confuse with Grace Is Gone (2007). Confusion is sex.
Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)
Written and directed and narrated by Werner Herzog
Featuring Dieter Dengler as himself
(OK, OK, the audio in Part 6 is fucked up, but it’s only the last three minutes of the film. A drag, I know, because the ending is totally awesome. But check out the first 75 minutes, then rent or buy an actual copy!)
Bonus: “Werner Herzog Reads Where’s Waldo?“: