14 user 5 critic

Night Crossing (1982)

True tale about two men planing to escape from communist East Germany in a hot air balloon, but only if they can take their families with them.


Delbert Mann


John McGreevey
2 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Hurt ... Peter Strelzyk
Jane Alexander ... Doris Strelzyk
Doug McKeon ... Frank Strelzyk
Keith McKeon Keith McKeon ... Fitscher Strelzyk
Beau Bridges ... Günter Wetzel
Glynnis O'Connor ... Petra Wetzel
Geoffrey Liesik Geoffrey Liesik ... 'Little' Peter Wetzel
Michael Liesik Michael Liesik ... Andreas Wetzel
Ian Bannen ... Josef Keller
Anne Stallybrass Anne Stallybrass ... Magda Keller
Matthew Taylor Matthew Taylor ... Lukas Keller
Klaus Löwitsch ... Schmolk
Günter Meisner ... Major Koerner
Sky du Mont ... Ziegler (as Sky Dumont)
Jan Niklas ... Lt. Fehler


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 ... Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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.


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


The date of the night crossing was September 15, 1979. See more »


Günter Wetzel: People have always laughed at the great ideas.
Doris Strelzyk: You want us to climb into a balloon and float away to West Germany?
Petra Wetzel: Come on. It isn't funny to make jokes about going to the West.
Doris Strelzyk: They're not joking.
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User Reviews

Interesting and well acted
14 September 2020 | by r96skSee all my reviews

Good, could've been made a bit more subtly though.

'Night Crossing', which portrays the true story of a hot air balloon escape from East Germany, is an interesting and well acted production. However, it doesn't do anything to throw you off the scent.

Predictability isn't always a negative, but it is one for this film in my opinion. Whether it be through knowledge of the event, reading the opening credits (where they acknowledge the families) or just general direction of the story - it's easy to see where it's going, as such the pacing is very slow; at least across the first and middle acts.

With that noted, things do end brightly thanks to the feel-good nature of the finale and the satisfactory cast. John Hurt (Peter) is the best of the bunch, while the few around him add to proceedings well. Günter Meisner, Mr. Slugworth himself, also makes an appearance. On the cast, it is kinda odd that some characters have British accents and some have German - you'd think the filmmakers would've picked one or the other.

I don't have any recollection of knowing about this true event before watching this, which is a surprise given I know about other stories regarding this topic. Either way, it's a solid film.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

Official Site


UK | USA | West Germany



Release Date:

5 February 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Balloon Movie See more »

Filming Locations:

Landsberg, Bavaria, Germany See more »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,547,912, 7 February 1982

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo | Stereo (RCA Photophone Sound Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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