Werner Herzog: Lessons of Darkness
Screening Dates
  • December 11, 2021 4:30
  • December 13, 2021 6:30
  • December 19, 2021 8:10
  • January 4, 2022 6:30
New Restoration

Unforgettable … It takes art to transform someone else’s experience into our own.”

Roger Ebert

The subject of Werner Herzog’s haunting 1997 documentary lived an extraordinary, hard-fought life of brute survival. Raised, like Herzog, in a WWII-ravaged Germany beset by privation and fear, Dieter Dengler slipped off to America at 18 and, driven by an existential need to fly, became a Navy pilot. In 1966, at the height of the Vietnam War, Dengler was shot down over Laos and taken captive by the Pathet Lao. He endured months of imprisonment and torture before escaping into the perilous jungle where, miraculously, he was spotted and rescued. Three decades later, Dengler candidly relates—and, in some disquieting instances, reenacts—these harrowing events in Herzog’s engrossing nonfiction” film, which flirts with fabrication throughout. (The gateway to a more meaningful ecstatic” truth, Herzog maintains.) Dengler’s story of against-the-odds survival also forms the basis of Herzog’s 2006 narrative feature Rescue Dawn (also screening in this retrospective). In German and English with English subtitles.

Restoration courtesy of Shout! Factory and the American Genre Film Archive

One of the director’s more earnest works. It’s also archetypal Herzog.”

Ed Gonzalez, Slant