One tough little cookie . . .
. . . and I'm not just talking about the girl Susan portrayed. IMDB notes that she did her own stunts, and that's what got me the first time I saw the movie. You see her stumbling through a REAL rain forest and swimming in REAL jungle rivers in a skimpy dress and one foot bare. It's a wonder she didn't come down with some disease. How many actresses today would go through something like that?
Werner Herzog make a documentary about Juliane's journey and survival called "Wings of Hope" (on YouTube). Accompanying Juliane, they retrace her trek, finding pieces of wreckage along the way - somewhat of a marvel to me. A neat scene near the end when she meets the one surviving woodcutter, still living in apparent poverty. She has grown up into a nice-looking woman and was pretty stoic throughout (I thought sure at some point that the memories would overwhelm her) and spoke a softly modulated German - a tough thing to do in that language.
Surprisingly, Herzog panned this movie, calling it dismal; and Susan a poor actress. WAY off, in my opinion, and evidently at odds with all but one of the reviewers here. Juliane kidded that Susan was besieged by all the jungle creatures, when in reality, it was just the bugs that were bad. I thought she would have realized that movies always overblow a situation for effect.
What is really eerie is that Herzog was supposed to be on that same plane, going to some site in Peru where he was directing "Aguirre, the Wrath of God." It was overbooked, so he lost out - and lived.
Juliane also wrote a book titled "When I fell from the sky", but from what the reviewers say, only about 10% relates to how she survived, the balance being about rain forest flora and fauna.
It is also a pleasant surprise that Ms. Penhaligon is still active in films as her persona always attracted me and I always thought she deserved more exposure.