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
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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