Little Dieter Needs to Fly: Discussion Questions
- The following graphic begins the film: “And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it, and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.” Revelation 9:6. In what ways is that statement a metaphor for Dieter’s experiences and attitudes?
- Evaluate the title of the film. Why is it perfect for this story and this person?
- Identify and evaluate the various backgrounds or contexts Herzog uses in the film. How do those contexts help us comprehend the meaning of Dieter’s stories? To what extent is Herzog manipulating the audience—and even Dieter—in these scenes?
- When Dieter arrives at his home early in the film, he opens and closes the car doors strangely, and then opens and closes the front door strangely (and even comments on this strangeness). Herzog directed Dieter to perform these actions and to comment on them. What was Herzog trying to accomplish using this methodology?
- Evaluate Herzog’s use of archival footage? What is most effective about that use?
- What is the truth of Dieter’s life experiences—including his formative years?
- Identify and analyze Herzog’s ability to find images are visual metaphors for the moods, emotions, and psychological effects conveyed in Dieter’s stories.
- In scene 21 Dieter is shown having his hands tied behind his back and then running through the jungle—just as he did when he was a prisoner. Early in the scene he laments, “This is a little too close to home.” Herzog asked Dieter to act out his story this way. Herzog had him tied up, Herzog made him run through the jungle, and Herzog even filmed multiple takes of these scenes. How did you respond to these scenes? How does knowing about Herzog’s intervention (manipulation?) affect your response?
Film resource written by Robert Yahnke
Copyright, Robert E. Yahnke, © 2009
Professor, Univ. of Minnesota
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