The movie begins in the early 1930’s, with a group flying an older plane through the desert. During the flight, they encounter a problem with the radio and the voltage regulator. Their destination is Benghazi. Additionally, Lew Moran fails to inform Frank Towns about a noisy pulley on the starboard side of the aircraft, so Frank has to inspect it. While flying, they get caught in a severe sandstorm which causes both engines to malfunction due to sand entering the carburetors and affecting their power. Consequently, Frank, who is the pilot, decides to deploy the landing gear as not doing so would render the plane entirely incapable of flying again.
When he lands the plane, a few straps holding heavy items break and kill two men in the crash. It also crushes the man sitting in the back. They crash over 100 miles off course and do not have a radio to signal for help. Everyone is confident that air support will come to find them.
The group dynamic and the impact of team roles are evident in the beginning when the plane crashes. Frank Towns, feeling immense sadness and guilt for causing the death of two men and severely injuring another, takes on a leadership role and instructs everyone on what needs to be done and how to do it. Meanwhile, Lew Moran attempts to calm Frank down and keep him composed. Captain Harris steps in to organize everything and ensure everyone is settled. His two primary concerns are always having flairs on hand and conserving the water supply.
At the beginning of the story, Heinrich Dorfmann and Dr. Renaud are not very talkative or active. However, Heinrich Dorfmann is seen reading and drawing on some papers. After a few days stranded in the desert, some changes occur among the main characters. Frank Towns becomes extremely frustrated with Heinrich Dorfmann and sees him as too young and incapable of doing anything. On the other hand, Captain Harris displays great competence and is actively exploring different options to get rescued in their time of need.
The other men are keeping quiet while Heinrich Dorfmann and Frank Towns are stuck in the desert. After being stranded for about 5 or 6 days, Heinrich reveals that he has designed a smaller plane that can transport all of them to safety. However, he mentions that it will take 12 days to finish and they must work at night. Frank becomes upset because they only have about 4 to 5 days’ worth of water left, which is far from enough for the 12-day period required to build another plane.
Heinrich informed Frank that he could construct a still, which would generate water for an additional 6 days. Meanwhile, Captain Harris and another individual accompanied by a monkey made the decision to seek assistance. However, Frank expressed concern about this plan, as he believed it would only lead them to their demise. The person with mental health issues became disturbed by the captain’s refusal to let him join the journey for help. Consequently, when no one was looking, he secretly followed the two men. Frank took it upon himself to locate and bring him back to camp. However, when Frank eventually found him, birds were perched on his lifeless body.
He returns to the camp alone, feeling extremely sad about losing another man. Frank Towns is unsure about what he should do and has a conversation with Dr. Renaud. The doctor suggests that these men will work harder for something they believe in. It becomes clear to me that Frank Towns dislikes being told what to do by others, which is emphasized by Lew. As a result, the following day, Frank confronts Heinrich, marking the start of the construction of the new airplane.
There appears to be ongoing tension between Frank and Heinrich regarding leadership. One night, an unnamed individual witnesses Captain Harris collapsing near the camp but fails to inform the other men. Heinrich eventually notices and assists Harris. Despite their efforts to provide water and food, Harris remains severely ill and dehydrated. The next night, while the men are working on the aircraft, a man whose leg was crushed takes his own life. Captain Harris witnesses this and alerts the others. As a result, the death toll now stands at 5 individuals.
After discovering that water is being stolen from their tank, Frank learns that Heinrich is the culprit. Heinrich confesses, claiming that he is the one doing all the work. As a result, work on the plane abruptly stops. It is Lew who manages to reason with Frank, reminding him that nobody is thinking clearly in this situation. Lew also points out that Frank’s anger stems from being wrong, whereas Heinrich is often correct and knowledgeable in his actions. At this point, it seems that Lew is the only team member actively trying to motivate everyone to resume working.
He was the one responsible for initiating communication and reconciliation between Frank and Heinrich, urging them to work together on completing the plane. The team began to collaborate effectively until Heinrich confessed to Lew and Frank that he had only built and designed model planes, not full-sized ones. This revelation angered Frank, causing him to lose trust in Heinrich without disclosing this to the others. Additionally, the group encountered Arabic men with a resting camel, prompting the Captain and Doctor to approach them seeking assistance.
The next morning, Frank inspected the scene and discovered that both the doctor and the Captain had been killed by the men. Therefore, the official count for the movie is a total of 7 men who were lost in the crash and its aftermath. At this point, they have completed the construction of the airplane and are conducting a thorough inspection to ensure everything is in order. When it is time to start the motor, Frank impressively manages to start it after 6 attempts. Once the motor is running, they must maintain minimum RPMs to minimize vibrations.
After the crash, the group must transfer the aircraft to a distant flat land. Once they arrive, everyone boards the plane and they take off. Eventually, they arrive at a small oil field where they all plunge into the water, marking the end of the movie. By the end or near the end, the fellows become friendly towards each other and express gratitude and admiration towards Heinrich for creating this incredible aircraft. The crash has impacted each person differently, leading to various reactions and approaches.
I believe Frank Towns played a crucial role as both an evaluator and a leader throughout the ordeal. He had to make compromises and take charge in various situations. Similarly, Lew was instrumental in keeping the group focused on repairing the plane and acted as a gatekeeper. Moreover, he acted as an energizer, motivating everyone when tensions were high. Additionally, Captain Harris served as an information speaker and coordinator, making two small attempts to rescue the camp.
I believe that the person subordinate to him served as his procedural technician, taking care of all the unpleasant tasks assigned by the Captain. Heinrich Dorfmann fulfilled the roles of an informative seeker, opinion seeker, evaluator, and coordinator within the group. In my opinion, he played a crucial role in enabling the group to construct the plane, as their knowledge would have been insufficient without him. Lastly, the rest of the men were primarily followers who carried out instructions, with some also serving as procedural technicians in assisting with the plane’s construction.
I believe that Heinrich Dorfmann influenced both Frank Towns and Lew Moran through rational persuasion. He accomplished this by designing a new airplane and providing all the necessary mathematical data to address their concerns. On the other hand, Frank relied on pressure tactics, as he despised being dictated to, as evident in the movie. In contrast, Lew employed ingratiation and personal appeals, using both Frank and Heinrich to create a rationale for completing the plane and encouraging cooperation between them.
At the start of the movie, Frank commanded respect from everyone as the pilot and overseer during the flight. However, after the crash, the whole group lost their respect and support for Frank, becoming angry and upset about the lack of assistance. This changed when Heinrich communicated his designing and building skills to Frank and the rest of the group; trust was restored and everyone began to respect and support each other. By the end of the movie, there was even a sense of fairness as all the men were joyful and shared love for one another.
Frank Towns exercised legitimate power by asserting his authority to take control of the situation. He demonstrated this when the plane crashed, instructing everyone to evacuate and gather by the wing while he managed the situation. Lew, on the other hand, employed reward power by offering Frank the promise of salvation and utilizing Heinrich’s expertise to construct a new plane. Captain Harris, as the leader of two expeditions, utilized legitimate power as he faced a near-death experience during the first expedition, prompting him to exercise leadership in a more cautious manner.
The second time he wanted to confront the Arab group and see if they would assist him, resulting in his death. Heinrich Dorfmann possessed expert power as he was highly skilled and served as the lead builder of model airplanes. He utilized his knowledge to design and perform all the necessary calculations for constructing a new plane based on the wrecked one. The conflict between Frank and Heinrich emerged primarily due to their differing values. Frank disliked being instructed, but eventually acknowledged Heinrich’s competence and realized that he had been right from the beginning.
In my opinion, the second primary conflict was between Captain Harris and his helper. The helper pretended to twist his ankle and deserted Captain Harris in the desert, thinking he would perish. In the end, he was pleased to learn of Captain Harris’ demise. I believe that Frank possessed a strong core value as a leader, always striving to do what was right. He also felt accountable for all the events that transpired. This differed from Heinrich’s value, as he was highly intelligent and never made mistakes in his words or actions.
Regarding Lew, he came to realize that drinking is not beneficial and actually hampers progress. Captain Harris displayed both significance and status by being willing to do whatever it took for the group to survive, even if it meant sacrificing himself. All the main characters demonstrated loyalty and self-worth towards one another and themselves. Ultimately, they all placed value on accomplishment, as evidenced by their successful completion and flight of the plane. In conclusion, after watching this movie, I personally believe that the events depicted in it would not occur in today’s world.
Although it may not be pleasant to admit, society is witnessing a concerning trend of increasing laziness among individuals who prioritize video games and television over productive endeavors. As a result, people are failing to acquire new knowledge and lack the motivation to actively engage in meaningful activities. In the movie, there was initially a significant amount of panic regarding whether they would be rescued. However, after Heinrich devised a plan to build a new airplane, everyone united and worked together to transform their drawings into a tangible aircraft. Ultimately, they successfully mobilized and flew the plane to an oil rig, thereby escaping certain death.