Hoping that self-employment through gig economy can solve their financial woes, a hard-up UK delivery driver and his wife struggling to raise a family end up trapped in the vicious circle of this modern-day form of labour exploitation.
In the summer of 1979, in Thüringen, in East Germany, two families put together a crazy plan. They are desperate to leave the DDR for the 'West' and plan to flee in a homemade hot air balloon. After sewing and tinkering for weeks, the amateurs make their first attempt. Meters from the West German border, their balloon suffers from the rain and crash lands. Luckily, they manage to avoid being caught by the police. However, the wreckage from their escape attempt is found and that triggers a desperate manhunt. The tension rises as the families determine to try again, and a race against time ensues. On the one hand, the authorities, desperate to track down the traitors, become aware that a second attempt is being planned. On the other, the would-be escapees, conscious of the search drawing ever nearer, need to build a more robust, weatherproof balloon - and avoid leaving too many clues.
This film depicts the construction and launching of two improvised hot-air balloons. There were actually three. The first was an utter failure, because they had utilized a cotton-based fabric that was porous and leaked air massively. See more »
The closing credits show multiple photos of the real-life subjects of the film: including hospital photos of Wetzel (whose leg was broken on impact) and East German crime scene photos of the first failed balloon attempt. See more »
This film is based on a true story and recounts an evasion attempt, from GDR to FRG, in 1979 during the Cold War, with two families ballooning over a heavily guarded area, starting from Pößneck, a small town within Thuringia, knowing that the shortest distance as the crow flies to reach Bavaria and the Western Bloc is about 25 km. We may see this movie as a commemoration of the manifold unsuccessful attempts and also, in slight advance, of the 30 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) and the German reunification (1990).
It's well played, suspenseful and points up two main issues: 1) The secret preparation of such an expedition, in a country which is supposed to be a republic if one refers naively to the acronym GDR, and which turns out to be a dictatorship controlling every gesture and every word, thanks to the Stasi. 2) Leaving those who are not part of the expedition and who stay in the GDR such as grandparents or friends, in order to start a new life, ex nihilo. Otherwise, even though it might be a part of the same true story, the episode of the cigarette pack and the American embassy is too showy and, in my humble opinion, pollutes the film.
Finally, despite a decade studying German, from college to the end of my studies, I am not sensitive enough to the subtleties of variations of accents between the different Länder, contrary to sh_bronstein, in his review dating from November 2018. Although his rating is harsh, I find that his review is relevant but does not concern me. Fortunately somehow.
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