Rescue Dawn

2006

Adventure / Biography

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Christian Bale as Dieter Dengler
Steve Zahn as Duane
Zach Grenier as Squad Leader
720p
801.58 MB
1280*700
English
PG-13
English
23.976 fps
2hr 0 min
P/S 10 / 78

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by David H. Schleicher 9 / 10

One Flew over the Bamboo Hut

For me, Werner Herzog will always be remembered for his haunting 1979 remake of "Nosferatu." Next to the silent-era original, it's probably the greatest artistic statement ever put to film on the myth of the vampire. Apart from that, he's been one of those fascinatingly enigmatic European infant-terrible directors, brazenly going against the studio system and doing whatever he damn well pleases, be it documentaries or bizarre art films. "Rescue Dawn" comes as a huge surprise, and proving that he still does whatever he pleases, is a dramatized version of the true story of Vietnam POW Dieter Dengler that Herzog previously filmed as a documentary in 1997 entitled "Little Dieter Needs to Fly." Masterfully realized, "Rescue Dawn" emerges as Herzog's most accessible film. After over 30 years of film-making, he's gone "Hollywood" but has done it on his own terms.

"Rescue Dawn" features classical and feverishly transcendent direction from Herzog, breathtaking cinematography of Laos and Vietnam from Peter Zeitlinger, a triumphant and evocative music score from Klaus Bedelt, and Oscar-worthy performances from an amazing cast. In the lead role of Dieter, Christian Bale once again puts his whole body into the character (as he did in "The Machinist"). Bale has become one of those rare actors whose every role seems to be the performance of his career. Also noteworthy are Jeremy Davies ("Saving Private Ryan," and "Ravenous") as Eugene from Eugene, Oregon, who seems to always get cast as the most emotionally unstable soldier, and a shockingly good and sympathetic Steve Zahn as Duane. Herzog puts the cast through the ringer in artistically rendered depictions of torture, horror, and survival in the harshest of conditions. Even in some of the most cringe-worthy scenes, Herzog turns what could've been wallowing on its head--witness the fantastic transition from Bale eating live worms and one crawling in his beard to a beautiful caterpillar leisurely making its way across a leaf in the peaceful jungle.

Essentially what we have here is the war-movie version of Milos Foreman's "One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest" as Herzog depicts a group of average men who were slightly crazy already becoming increasingly more mad through involuntary imprisonment. While Bale's character refuses to be held down and is constantly trying to keep his brain and skills sharp through plotting an escape, some of his fellow prisoners are rendered hopeless as they have turned their own minds into the most impenetrable walls. Herzog does a great job of depicting tiny bits of humanity and dignity shining through in the most inhumane conditions, and how the will to survive can triumph over death. He's somehow crafted a movie that is both boldly anti-establishment and unapologetically pro-soldier and patriotism. Being based on a true story where the ending is known to the viewer doesn't take away from the white-knuckle suspense and human drama. Unlike Foreman's classic from the 1970's, where Jack Nicholson (mirrored here by Bale) flew over the cuckoo's nest and disappeared into his own insanity, Herzog gives up hope. One flew over the bamboo hut...and he made it.

Reviewed by MisterWhiplash 10 / 10

one of Herzog's very best; it's totally gripping storytelling, stellar performances, touches of great humor and true pathos

What a way to have a little counter-programming this July 4th! In a time when the summer blockbuster means sequels and remakes galore delivering high powered special effects but not much human soul, we need a picture with Dieter Dengler as the 'hero' of sorts. It's the closest Herzog has gotten to telling a story of the purest kind of survival, where it's not about a guy out to kill all the bad guys in sight ala Rambo, but in its harrowing way much more extraordinary. As played by Christian Bale, who goes once again to be totally gaunt, Dengler is a pilot who's been stripped of everything except for his will to live- which he has in spades, and is both very strong and vulnerable at the same time. Strong in the sense that he's capable of organizing an escape for himself and his fellow prisoners (including an unforgettable Steve Zahn- yes, unforgettable, not the usual tenor for Zahn, and Jeremy Davies, looking very much like Charles Manson), vulnerable enough to get close to Zahn's Dwight, leading to very sad results.

LIke any great POW movie, Herzog does give his film many moments that aren't totally tension filled or with exposition relating to escape: there's humor, like with a prison guard who's a midget named Jumbo, or a dog with a few hind-leg walking skills, or the one prisoner who doesn't say a word but conveys "yes" without even nodding. He even has the wisdom to put the same educational short from Little Dieter Needs to Fly, for soldiers explaining what to do in case put behind enemy lines, only this time with the soldiers giving their own raucous commentary on the ship. And in what could be considered "conventional" in the sense that it's not totally abstract like Fata Morgana or wildly bleak like Aguirre, his style a lot of the time is that of a skilled professional as opposed to the great experimenter he can be. The documentary approach is still there, to be sure, but what's most fascinating considering the studio backing and slew of producers is that it never feels false as a Herzog film, that it still has the technique and approach to telling an epic story that his 8-man crewed films did. There were also many shots that I had rolling in my head long after the film ended.

Featuring appropriately an emotional musical score, exceptional performances, and that good old jungle that's served as one of Herzog's love/hate facets of his career, Rescue Dawn is accessible entertainment that is also profound as a tale loaded with the kinds of ugly details (though not too graphic in PG-13 form) that wouldn't ever get by in the usual sentimental Hollywood malarkey. A must-see.

Reviewed by tomcardello 10 / 10

Not a "popcorn" film

Besides terrific acting & a compelling (true!!) story, this film does not wallow in over-glorifying itself. It doesn't try to pump up the audience with patriotic blather or "gee whiz, what a guy" feel good stuff. It simply tells the story of this incredibly courageous and resourceful man, Dieter Dengler. This is a great example of how films should be made. Also, the film's historical content was very, very accurate, the writers took few if any liberties with the truth.

Christian Bale is indeed an actor to be reckoned with. He's quickly becoming one of my favorites. His acting is believable and subdued.

Highly recommended but see it in a theatre and not on DVD in order to get the full effect of this great story.

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