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
The ice-cold freezing conditions in the Bavarian Mountains provided several problems for the production. Compressed steam was used to burn off ice from snow fields. Snow was also swept off of the icy roads. Moreover, trees had to be painted green, in order to reflect the seasonal September look. See more »
I use this at school with my aviation class in our hot air ballooning unit. Students are now so far removed from the time of "The Iron Curtain" that they find it hard to believe this is a true story. Fortunately there are plenty of newspaper clips online to prove it. The balloon in the movie is very close to what they actually built.
This movie is well done, after the first 10 minutes the class sits very quiet and gets caught up in the suspense and action. Don't know if I would recommend it for young children because of some of the violence. But great for middle school and above, and a special treat for those of us who remember the day the wall came down.
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