Rescue Dawn

DVD Reviews | Nov 24th, 2007

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Starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn, Jeremy Davies
Written By: Werner Herzog
Directed By: Werner Herzog
Studio: MGM
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Werner Herzog is acclaimed documentary filmmaker and definitely brings that style to this feature-length film starring Christian Bale, Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies. I was curious to see this film because I’m a big fan of Christian Bale’s and thought this looked real interesting as well. It certainly was!

Rescue Dawn is based on the true story of German-American pilot Dieter Dengler. Dieter was on a top secret bombing mission and was shot down over in Laos during the Vietnam War. He survives the crash and tries to get rescued but that fails when he gets captured. He goes from camp to camp, getting tortured and humiliated in various forms. He finally gets to a permanent camp and meets other POWs like Duane Martin (Steve Zahn) and Gene (Jeremy Davies). The POWs have to get chained together nightly, and are force to crap themselves. Plus they are given maggots and worms to eat, with rarely getting anything decent. Dengler tries to stay positive while others are a bit more pessimistic on trying to get out of the camp. Besides having to escape a heavily guarded prison, they have to survive the dangerous jungle as well. When the prisoners overhear that the guards are going to shoot them, they decide it’s now or never with escaping the Laos camp.

I haven’t seen other Vietnam-era movies that much but this film was more of a character drama more than anything. This isn’t some action flick or anything, it’s about a man who endured so much and actually survived to tell the story. This movie was a remake of Herzog’s documentary “Little Dieter Needs To Fly” and I like how he turned it into a movie as well. It’s certainly an intriguing story and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. I never knew about Dieter Dengler until this film so I think many people will like this movie. I just can’t believe all the crap Dieter and the other POWs had to go. Knowing me, I don’t know if I could crap myself or eat maggots. But I guess if I was starving I’d probably eat anything to survive. Or I’d probably kill myself. Who knows, no one can ever imagine themselves in those situations.

Bonus features include audio commentary with Werner Herzog and interviewer Norman Hill, The Making of a True Story featurette, deleted scenes and a photo gallery. The featurette was the best thing on there because it was 45 minutes long and had a lot of behind the scenes stuff. You got a lot of great interviews, including some funny interviews with Steve Zahn who had “a blast” filming this movie. Eating maggots, walking in the jungle barefoot, swimming in snake infested waters…and filming was a blast??! Bale & Zahn seemed to have a good time filming together and made lots of jokes together. They said the crazier the place they were at, the more jokes they came up with. You also learned in that documentary that Werner filmed them when they weren’t expecting it or when the other crew members weren’t around. I didn’t check out the deleted scenes or the other extras yet though.

I think this film is great because the story is remarkable, plus it has excellent performances from Bale, Zahn and Davies. Christian Bale always gives 100 percent into his acting and it shows in this movie. The guy seems like he’s willing to do anything on film. I thought Steve Zahn gave one of his strongest performances to date, and Jeremy Davies plays Gene really creepy and went all out with being super skinny. Director Werner Herzog needs to make more movies instead of documentaries because the guy knows how to make a movie!

Commentary by Director Werner Herzog and Interviewer Norman Hill
The Making of a True Story Featurette: Unfinished Business: Telling Dieter’s Story, Strength of Character, War Stories, What Would Dieter Do?
3 Deleted Scenes With Optional Commentary by Director Werner Herzog and Interviewer Norman Hill
Still Photo Gallery

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1 CC
SPANISH: Dolby Digital Surround
FRENCH: Dolby Digital Surround

Widescreen 1.85:1 Color

English, Spanish

Favorite Scenes: I didn’t really have a favorite scene but liked when the prisoners finally escape.
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 125 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: