If you are looking for an adventure film that is powerful, moving, downright thrilling, and free of any attempts at a twist, Rescue Dawn may be the movie for you. Quite frankly, this is one of the best films of the year.
It provides an extraordinary tale of spirit and survival, the story of one man and his desire to escape a terrible situation that he never suspected he'd be in. It engages the audience, drawing you in and holding you at complete attention for its duration. Well, that is how it affected me, anyway.
With Rescue Dawn, director Werner Herzog delivers a fascinating film, which pays testimony to the strength of human spirit and its ability to adapt to ever-changing circumstances in order to survive.
Rescue Dawn is based on the story of Dieter Dengler, whose story was previously told in the documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly (also directed by Werner Herzog). Herzog is a director whom I have little experience with, though I have read of his penchant for the crossing of reality and fantasy in both his fictional and documentary features.
Knowing that, it is not hard to believe that portions of Dengler's tale have been dramatized to increase suspense. In particular, I have read of significant changes to the character of Gene DeBruin (Jeremy Davies), one of Dengler's fellow prisoners who is shown as being a bit loony and believing release is imminent. I do not believe that Herzog was disrespecting his memory, or attempting to portray him in an unflattering light. It feels like a valid portrayal of a man who has endured imprisonment, torture, and severe malnutrition for more than two years. I have a feeling I would be a little looney as well if I had been subjected to what he went through. Before going too far down this path, let's get back to the story at hand.