Best Documentary Movies of 1997
Little Dieter Needs to Fly
In 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over Laos, captured, and, down to 85 pounds, escaped. Barefoot, surviving monsoons, leeches, and machete-wielding villagers, he was rescued. Now, near 60, living on Mt. Tamalpais, Dengler tells his story: a German lad surviving Allied bombings in World War II, postwar poverty, apprenticed to a smith, beaten regularly. At 18, he emigrates and peels potatoes in the U.S. Air Force. He leaves for California and college, then enlistment in the Navy to learn to fly. A quiet man of sorrows tells his story: war, capture, harrowing conditions, escape, and miraculous rescue. Where did he find the strength; how does he now live with his memories?
Waco: The Rules of Engagement
In one of the most tragic face-offs in the history of law enforcement, the deadly debacle at Waco pitted the Branch Davidian sect against the FBI in an all-out war. This documentary makes the most of footage and recordings to examine how the events that led to the tragedy of April 19, 1993, unfolded, and how the FBI's unrelenting approach made what was already a bad situation much worse.
Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary
Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary is a 1997 film documenting an endurance competition that took place in Longview, Texas. The yearly competition pits twenty-four contestants against each other to see who can keep their hand on a pickup truck for the longest amount of time. Whoever endures the longest without leaning on the truck or squatting wins the truck.
Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist
The story of Robert Flanagan, a man who was born with cystic fibrosis and told he wouldn't live past 20, who through a unique odyssey of masochism, art and love found a way to live decades past his expiration date.
Fast, Cheap & Out of Control
Errol Morris’s Fast, Cheap & Out of Control interweaves the stories of four men, each driven to create eccentric worlds from their unique obsessions, all of which involve animals. There’s a lion tamer who shares his theories on the mental processes of wild animals; a topiary gardener who has devoted a lifetime to shaping bears and giraffes out of hedges and trees; a man fascinated with hairless mole rats; and an MIT scientist who has designed complex, autonomous robots that can crawl like bugs.
4 Little Girls
On September 15, 1963, a bomb destroyed a black church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls who were there for Sunday school. It was a crime that shocked the nation--and a defining moment in the history of the civil-rights movement. Spike Lee re-examines the full story of the bombing, including a revealing interview with former Alabama Governor George Wallace.
Out of the Loop
A feature-length documentary on the 1990s Chicago rock scene.
Garth Live from Central Park
This was the ultimate Garth Brooks fan's dream-a free live performance in Central Park. Garth gave a good showing in it, and I loved his performances of all his classic songs, such as "Unanswered Prayers, "The Dance," and "Friends in Low Places." While there weren't any of the high-kinetic, ultra-energetic stage movements usually reserved for the arena shows Garth gives, it was still worth the video purchase. Garth's performance was terrific, and the audience members obviously loved it as they sang along with all of his songs. You will find yourself doing the same.
The Big One
The Big One is an investigative documentary from director Michael Moore who goes around the country asking why big American corporations produce their product abroad where labor is cheaper while so many Americans are unemployed, losing their jobs, and would happily be hired by such companies as Nike.
Paul McCartney: In the World Tonight
Documenting the recording process for Paul's 1997 album Flaming Pie, In The World Tonight is a fascinating insight into how a studio album is constructed, following Paul around his home studio and Abbey Road as he creates what would go on to be his first studio album in four years. In many ways there are two Paul McCartneys, the legend and the man. In The World Tonight reveals the man behind the public face, intimately capturing him at work, at ease and as candid as ever.