Jungle as Prison
January 1, 2011
At least two popular movies use the “jungle as prison” theme. Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, directed by David Lean) and Rescue Dawn (2006, directed by Werner Herzog). The former is an all-time classic WW2 movie and the later is the latest example of Herzog’s jungle film creation prowess. His Aguirre: Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo will get their own posts on this blog eventually. I should also mention Herzog’s Little Dieter Needs to Fly, which is the same true story that Rescue Dawn is based on but in documentary form. It follows the real Dieter Dengler returning to Laos to retrace his path through the jungle.
Jungle as prison…as in “Why even try to escape? We’ll just die in the jungle anyways.” Rescue Dawn takes the theme even further, turning it into “jungle as insane asylum”. It’s like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in the rainforest. The inmates there are losing their sanity and will to escape…until Dieter arrives. Even the guards are loony.
There’s not much I can say about Bridge on the River Kwai that hasn’t likely been said elsewhere, so I won’t even try. I can say this about David Lean: his Oliver Twist is one of my favorite movies of all time, but this blog isn’t called Fire in the City.