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Look out for more coverage of
Rescue Dawn in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Rescue Dawn

Christian Bale • Steve Zahn • Jeremy Davies
DIRECTOR: Werner Herzog

Christian Bale and Steve Zahn THE CONCEPT:
Set during the Vietnam War, the true story of Navy pilot Dieter Dengler’s (Bale) incredible escape from a POW camp in the impenetrable Laotian jungle after he had been shot down during a top-secret mission…

U.S. RELEASE: July 4 2007 • Rated: PG-13


“Dieter’s story was unique; he was one of the very few POWs who did not sign a propaganda letter that the North Vietnamese and Laotians would force the prisoners to sign by torturing them. I think even Senator McCain signed this kind of letter.”

“I like going to hell and back [he laughs]. I knew that Werner would be a good guy to take us there. How many times will I get to do this kind of crazy shit? So it’s something that I wanted to take advantage of, and I like testing myself and seeing how far I can go.”

“It was so clear that Christian should be Dieter that we only spoke with him. It’s a strange coincidence Dieter Dengler as a young man was very handsome, even looked a little bit like Christian. This was not the criterion, but it was strange that on location in Thailand, Dieter Dengler’s two sons visited us, and by mistake at the dinner table, one said, ‘Dad’ to him, and Christian and I immediately said, ‘We are doing a movie. This is not your dad,’ who had unfortunately died. For them it felt very much like their father.”

“Werner didn’t know much about Duane, but he did talk about what Dieter said about him. He said, ‘Duane and I were closer than we were to our parents or our brothers and sisters.’ And I loved about the story, they were so compassionate towards one another on a real primitive level, they needed each other’s companionship and warmth, and I thought that was beautiful, it’s something you don’t see in a war picture.”

“Even though the finished movie is not real life, when you are actually swimming in snake infested rivers you’re not acting the swimming in snake infested rivers. When you’re wrestling with a snake it’s not a pretend snake. You are wrestling with a real snake so, to me, that is real life. I really did that. And those were real maggots that I ate. I didn’t mind eating them, but I just wanted to make sure about where the maggots had come from.”

”I had so much compassion for Duane. Being in that environment, being in that state of mind, it was not a hard thing to just flip into that (mindset). And being with someone as remarkable as Christian Bale, who’s such an amazing actor, makes it easy.”

“I’ve done [(films] where people have to be set on fire and jump three stories. I’m not doing that. I’ve got limits, but put yourself in my position, you’re in Thailand, you’ve got these crazy ass Thai copter pilots who are willing to do anything, and they’re saying that they’re all setup with a stunt guy and I’m there saying, ‘Why can’t I do it?’ They said, ‘The helicopter is going to come, you’ve got to grab hold of the rope and be winched up and they’re going to fly you really low over the trees. You want to do that?’ I was like, ‘Yes I want to be doing that. I’m not letting anyone else do that!’”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Rescue Dawn site
Images above © Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Feature © 2007 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #685, July 2007 cover

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