As I was watching this movie, I was thinking that Herzog has got to be my favorite director at this point. If you had asked me that question seven years ago or so, I probably would have said it was Truffaut. Twelve years ago, it was probably Woody Allen. But now, it's got to be Herzog. The man is a genius. I have yet to see a Herzog film that wasn't good. But then again, I doubt I've seen even half of his films.
This one is his first Hollywood film for what that's worth. Not that it feels all that Hollywood. It still feels very much like Herzog. Like many of the Herzog films I've seen, this one tells the story of a stubborn/crazy/eccentric man refusing to give in to nature or the lack of imagination of other men.
Based on his 1997 "documentary" Little Dieter Needs to Fly, this film fleshes out more of the daring escape and flight through the jungle. The movie is pretty faithful to the first film but Herzog has admitted that he makes things up as well as stages things in his documentaries to get to the larger truth so who knows exactly how much of this is completely true? For example, I loved that Herzog incorporated parts of the instructional film from Little Dieter shown to pilots to tell them what to do in case of getting trapped behind enemy lines. The training film is presented in Little Dieter as being a real training film. But who the hell knows? I wouldn't put it past Herzog to have shot that film himself and presented it as real. With Herzog though, who cares? Genius need not be contained by what actually really happened, does it?
Other than Christian Bale's strange accent (he's supposed to be a German-American but he sounds more like John Wayne trying to imitate Sean Connery to me) and the incredibly silly last three minutes, this movie is really really damn good.
Directed by Werner Herzog