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Rescue Dawn (2007)

A true story of survival…declassified.

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 126 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A


Eight years after legendary oddball German Director Werner Herzog made the documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly he took the unusual step to remake the story as a Hollywood epic staring everyone’s favourite angry Welshman Christian Bale. This turned out to be a great decision as adding Herzog’s amazing cinematographic flourishes and his economy with the truth to an already great story presents us with a very powerful and very memorable prisoner of war movie.

Rescue Dawn is about Dieter Dengler, a German-American pilot who is shot down over Laos whilst on a classified bombing mission during the Vietnam War. He evades capture for a few days but is soon found by peasants and transferred to a prisoner of war camp deep in jungle. Here, he joins five other American prisoners who are all mentally unstable to say the least, including Duane (Zahn) and ‘Eugene from Eugene Oregan’ (Davies). When food begins to run out the inmates make a daring escape into unforgiving jungle territory and try find their way to freedom.

Rescue Dawn is another film where Christian Bale steals the show. Yet again, his physical dedication to a movie and his ability to bring such realism and emotional intensity to a role is a hugely successful attribute of Herzog’s film. This is certainly Christian Bale’s film however the real Dieter Dengler really shines through and this gives the film a profoundly powerful feeling of eternal optimism. It’s like The Great Escape but without the layers of cheese. We cannot forget Steve Zahn and Jeremy Davies massive contributions to this movie as they show similar physical transformation and portray their nervously unhinged characters with sympathy and occasional humour. 

As expected, Werner Herzog dispenses with that CGI magic, gets back to nature and returns to the kind of terrain in which he has made some of his finest films. The cinematography is wonderful as it takes centre stage in the final third and the reality that the cast find themselves in reflects on the action taking place on the screen. The only negative to be found in Rescue Dawn is the unnecessarily saccharine sweet finale. God Bless America.

It's Got: A terrific performance performance from Christian Bale, a powerful story, beautiful cinematography

It Needs: The cast to share their dieting techiques

DVD Extras A really fascinating commentary with Werner Herzog, a pretty interesting A Making Of featurette, a few deleted scenes and a gallery of images. DVD Extras Rating: 8/10


Christian Bale and Werner Herzog is a match made in heaven in this prisoner of war film with a heart. Rescue Dawn is a real testament to the power of the human spirit and, for once, I actually mean that.