Saturday, February 1, 2014

Werner Herzog, Juliana Koepcke, Wings of Hope

When I was a fourth grader, our teacher read an article to us about a girl who was the only survivor of a plane crash in a South American jungle. I remember some details. She came across a stream or river and knew to follow it down stream and it eventually brought her to a logging camp several days later.

I didn't know that the girl survived, strapped in her seat, after falling two miles when the plane fell apart in a storm after being struck by lightning.

I remember the part about how she got the maggots out of her wounds by pouring gasoline over them when she found a boat sitting unattended. She stayed there and waited for the loggers who owned it to return.

Turns out that Werner Herzog was supposed to be on that flight. He canceled his reservation when his itinerary changed. He was about to start shooting Aguirre, the Wrath of God filmed not far from where the girl would be fighting for her life.

For years he wanted to make a movie about her but was unable to contact the girl, a German named Juliana Koepcke. He finally contacted her through her priest.

Here is the documentary, Wings of Hope, on YouTube.

In German with voiceover English translation.

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