Two men want to escape from East Germany (under Communist rule) but they will only go if they can take their families with them. Based on a true story.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Peter Strelzyk
...
Doris Strelzyk
...
Frank Strelzyk
Keith McKeon ...
Fitscher Strelzyk
...
Günter Wetzel
...
Petra Wetzel
Geoffrey Liesik ...
'Little' Peter Wetzel
Michael Liesik ...
Andreas Wetzel
...
Josef Keller
Anne Stallybrass ...
Magda Keller
Matthew Taylor ...
Lukas Keller
...
Schmolk
Günter Meisner ...
Major Koerner
...
Ziegler (as Sky Dumont)
...
Lt. Fehler
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Storyline

In 1978 in East Germany two families, the Strelzyks and the Wetzels,make plans to escape the Communist East and flee to the West. Peter Strelzyk comes up with a daring idea to construct a homemade air balloon big enough to carry the two families across the East-West militarized border. The border between East and West Germany is heavily militarized, complete with watch towers, guard dogs, barbed-wire, alarms, sensors, search lights and patrols. Rumors have it that some areas of the militarized border are mined. The only chance of crossing the border is by air. The Strelzyks and the Wetzels commence their risky venture by purchasing lots of taffeta fabric and sewing it together with a sewing machine in the attic. Peter Strelzyk builds an experimental homemade hot air balloon burner. In 1979 when the balloon is ready Peter and his son test it but the Wetzel family becomes hesitant. The Strelzyks decide to go alone but bad weather causes the balloon to crash inside the Communist zone. ... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The East German border: 836 miles of barbed wire walls, automated machine guns, armed guards, and deadly land mines. On September 15, 1979 two families tried to cross it.


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

5 February 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Balloon Movie  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)
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(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film was made and released about three years after the real life true story events of an escape by two families by hot air balloon from East Germany to West Germany took place in 1979. See more »

Quotes

Ziegler: Do you think they'll make another attempt?
Major Koerner: They will.
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User Reviews

 
A spine-chilling political true action story
4 June 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

I think that this film has become an important record of the most horrifying aspect of the East German regime - the imprisonment of its people by what the regime called its anti-fascist protective wall. It is a document of desperation and courage not to be missed. I would however like to comment on the actual location of this escape. It did not happen in or around Berlin as supposed by some respondents and was nothing to do directly with the Berlin Wall. The escape balloon was flown over the Iron Curtain which not only divided Germany but it divided the whole of Europe at that time. The balloon took off from Pössneck, 170 miles south-west of Berlin in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and flew 14 miles to Naila in Bavaria and freedom in West Germany. The opening of the Iron Curtain in Hungary in 1989 preceded the fall of the Berlin Wall later that year. Whilst the balloon flight created entertaining suspense cinema, it should remain as a monument to those who lost their lives whilst attempting to escape from East Berlin, other parts of the GDR or other Soviet-controlled states.


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