Balloon (2018) Poster

(2018)

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7/10
Wunderbar!
FrenchEddieFelson15 April 2019
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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9/10
...will keep you on the edge of your seat...
ilan-552617 December 2019
I saw this film at the theatre this evening and I must admit, it captured and captivated me from the very first scene right up until the final climax.

The language barrier and English subtitles didn't affect the suspense level one bit, quite on the contrary. The fact that it's based on a true story just made it that much more entertaining and worthwhile to see.

The cast is truly "unbelievable", not literally speaking! This film just goes to prove that having a good script, actors and director completely compensates for having a low budget. You don't need a hundred million dollars to make a great movie and this is a fine example.

The plot and characters are so alive and vivid. You can feel their tensions and fears. This is definitely a movie to be seen as a family. The family values displayed are invaluable. Truly inspiring.
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8/10
Well told story
hugovanspaandonk14 April 2019
I don't understand the bad reviews. This movie is really worth watching . Well buildup and overall performance.
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7/10
Thrilling and exciting true tale about two families planing to escape from communist East Germany in a hot air balloon
ma-cortes11 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
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 . East Germany, two families, the Strelzyks (Friedrich Mücke , Karoline Schuch) and the Wetzels (David Kross , Alicia von Rittberg) , 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. The Strelzyks leave the crash area, but the incriminating evidence litters the ground. They wonder if they will be able to evade the ensuing Police investigation and whether they will be able to build another balloon for their next attempt. They also are determined to persuade the Wetzel family to maybe join them in their second try. That is, if the East German Communist secret Police, the Stasi commanded by Oberstleutnant Seidel (Thomas Kretschmann) , won't get to them first.For freedom they risked it all and the date of the night crossing was September 15, 1979 .

Based on actual events , about valiant heroes planing to escape from communist East Germany in a flimsy , homemade hot air balloon, but only if they can take their families with them . The real-life "Night Crossing" took just twenty-eight minutes and the flight path of the night crossing went from Poessneck, Thuringia, to Naila, Bavaria, which is near Hof . The fact-based story results to be an exciting action flick for the whole family . Imaginative scenes , suspenseful narration and didactic moralising make the film largely palatable . Furthermore , the excitement , intrigue and entertainment are widely piled on . This is is a second version , the first titled ¨Night crossing¨1982 , scrapings of the Disney barrel , being directed by Delbert Mann with Jon Hurt , Jane Alexander , Beau Bridges , the latter rendition ¨Ballon¨ 2018 is most interested in suspense and tension than the family life .

The motion picture was well and originally directed by Michael Bully Herbig . He is generally considered as being one of the most successful German filmmakers . Herbig is an expert on parody based on known characters , such as ¨Sissi¨ in ¨Lissi and ¨The Wild Emperor¨ and , of course , ¨Vickie the Viking¨ . His second feature movie he directed ,¨ Der Schuh des Manitu¨ became the most successful movie in Germany and Austria ever ,this movie ever with 12 million viewers and the broadcast television premiere of this film earned the highest rating in its history . Ballon (original title) rating : 7 . Acceptable and decent film appointed for children and adolescents and , youngsters ; of course , you'll enjoy this one . Well worth seeing .
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9/10
Gripping true story!
hcurran7771 November 2019
How two families engineer their escape from Communist East Germany to the West is excellent on all fronts: a gripping story line, a great director and actors, and the supporting soundtrack. The suspense builds and continues throughout the movie. Plenty of twists and turns to keep the audience engaged.
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10/10
Masterpiece
marcocestone26 December 2018
Great Actors, thrilling action, phantastic film music. Director Michael Herbig finds the right tonality to tell this true story. Must See!
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7/10
Up in the air
rubenm12 May 2019
'Why do we bother guarding the border? Wouldn't we be better off without those traitors?' This question by a Stasi-official pinpoints the paradox of communism: if a system without freedom would be better than a free society, why would citizens escape this system? The German film 'Ballon' doesn't elaborate on the pros and cons of political systems. Instead, it is a thriller filled with suspense, about two families trying to cross the border between East and West in a home made hot air balloon. The thriller-element is far more important than the political side of the story. The director doesn's shy away from classic Hollywood screenwriting clichés. But he gets away with it. I was gripped by the story, although it's clear that it's made more exciting than it was in reality. The excellent wikipedia-entry 'East German balloon escape' is interesting reading material for those who want to compare the film with reality. Besides being a fine thriller, 'Ballon' also shows very well the effects authoritarian societies have on its citizens. They risk their own lives and those of their young children, in order to stop living in a big lie. Many films have shown the gruesome aspects of East German communism, but once again I was amazed by the cruelty of people oppressing each other.
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10/10
Masterpiece
jalishkov28 November 2019
The movie is made in such a great way, that every second of it is a pure pleasure. Great acting, great plot, great actors. For people like me, the story is very touching and personal. During my childhood my father used to talk about being on the east or south of Germany, the harsh regime, and the unhappiness of east Germany citizens. The continuous struggle of people. It just set all emotions up with the history. Pure joy watching this movie!
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10/10
True Story
wiesenweich18 March 2019
Eciting from the first Minute til to the end. Great moving Camera, that is engrossing. Impressed and based on a True Story. Powerfull Soudtrack recorded by a real Orchestra. Bully Herbig new Genre Thrill is perhaps the best Movie that he made .I can only recommend.....and support that...
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9/10
A riveting story worth watching
muons7 September 2019
Balloon is a solid and unpretentious movie built around a cat-and-mouse game between infamous Stasi and two families trying to escape East Germany in a home-made hot air balloon. If it weren't based on a true story it would be difficult to believe how much risk some people would be willing to take with the life of their families while their day to day lives weren't really threatened by the system as long as they played along. However, once their initial attempt for escape fails, they realized they were being chased by Stasi and became desperate to flee the country no matter how.

Balloon has an engaging story, good direction, decent acting performance and above-the-average entertainment value. The recreation of 70's East Germany is well-done and convincing. After the first failing attempt, the pace of the movie indeed sags a bit, especially with the Berlin scenes, but it quickly picks up with the tension and drama kept tight till the end. It's worth watching and highly recommended.
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9/10
Exciting staged and true story. It is worth it ..
hxr-8444127 April 2019
The change from Herbig was worthwhile. You can hardly breathe in the 2 hours of the movie. A brilliant German actor ensemble gives itself the honor. Among others, Thomas Kretschmann, who brilliantly plays the diabolical Stasi lieutenant colonel. Figures with which one can identify oneself exist on both sides. However, it seems completely exaggerated that an IM could be on every corner. In Berlin in front of the hotel and the embassy for sure. But in a small village? However, it is credible that even a deaf party member wants to see West TV. But one immediately thinks of a trap. Likewise, one should be careful with jokes about the party chairman. I am looking forward to more "serious" films by Herbig.
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9/10
The most underrated movie of the year?
kgeri3214 January 2020
This escape story grabs the viewer in the very fisrt minute and won't let go until the end. The movie totally matches the quality and historical background known from "The Lives of Others" and "Good Bye Lenin". I highly recommend this title, especially if you're from the ex-Eastern Block.
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8/10
Must see
cathyokeeffe30 April 2019
Absolutely stunning in all aspects. The courage of the people who undertook this task is breathtaking.
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9/10
The wind of freedom
SilverOrlov15 November 2019
Incredibly strong movie. I did not expect that with such a simple description it turns out that I, with my experience of watching films and the desire often just to skip many boring moments, I will watch this film in one breath... this is really strong story.
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10/10
Highly recommended highly thrilling and moving "history lesson"
supermaggie28 September 2020
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is amazing on multiple levels. There is for one (which might explain some bad reviews) the fact that a wonderful comedian/actor/producer and director of incredible funny movies/TV shows managed to create a thriller, and not just any thriller, but a political, historical, based on true events thriller, which is authentic, believable and moving. I love Michael Herbig most for his funny stuff, but one cannot deny his bandwidth as an actor and director, his acting in the thriller Four against the bank was hilarious, his movie Buddy was heartwarming and touching, but still: his genius mostly shows in his comedy stuff - so far. Now he brought the true story of two families on the big screen (a story that I was familiar with for pretty much all my life since the families settled down in a neighbortown in the 80ies and I remember the repair shop of one of them - I also remember the border and the depressing atmosphere there/where many people died - shot trying to escape). And this story is a gripping one. You wouldn't believe it if it wasn't true. A story about families, about a misanthropic system (where people on each side were victims pretty much), a torn country and most of all, of course, a sensational escape. A lot of suspense, a lot of great actors (including a handsome Thomas Kretschmann - who escaped the GDR in 1983 himself - turned into an ugly secret police agent and performing (creepily and) brilliantly), a great eye for (historical) details - if you want to know some of the burdens that happened to (white, European, non-Nazi) Germans (yes, they had to suffer, too) after the war, this is an entertaining, thrilling, moving, accurate way of doing it. Highly recommendable. A history lesson that is also a thriller - what else can you wish for.
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8/10
Quite a story, entertaining and suspenseful.
deloudelouvain11 September 2020
There isn't much bad to write about Ballon. I don't know what people could dislike about this movie. To me it was entertaining, with quite a lot of suspense once you're into the story, a good cast (even the kids), and it's all nicely shot. I understand everybody was suspicious of the Stasi at that time, your best friend could betray you, but in this case I think they exaggerated a bit in order to make it more suspensful. But the suspense was the good thing about the story, plus the fact that it's based on a true story which made it even more appealing. It's one of the better German movies I've seen lately, certainly worth a watch if you like escape movies.
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8/10
Ballon - for freedom
jasonleetbr7 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Life is dear, love is dearer. Both can be given up for freedom. A film that isn't adapted from the inspirational real events, it's not inferior to "the Shawshank Redemption". The whole story is a plan to run away from DDR. With a ghostly soundtrack, it create a tense and suffocating atmosphere. The dictatorship of the East German Government has given birth to such a different kind of escape. The final ending is very touching.
  • for freedom
  • für Freiheit
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9/10
Great story
jarcopenning1 August 2019
Just got back from the cinema. I did not read anything before entering the screen.

I found the movie to be very exciting, containing beautiful photography and it shows the most beautiful unplastified actress I've seen in years. You may guess afterwards which lady I refer to.

Anyway, the story is real, yes some dramatization, yes some extra love story and yes, critics can easily find some things to tear the picture down. How often have critics created something themselves in their lives?

If you want to enjoy a fantastic timeless real story about courage, creativity and brotherhood, go and see this movie. After all, cinema is entertainment.
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5/10
OVER-INFLATED 🙄
MadamWarden21 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Most reviews refer to the story which is excellent. Nice insight into the desperation of those fleeing the GDR in the 70s and 80s.

The acting is solid. The cinematography excellent and the sets/costumes really authentic.

The plot is tense and should sort of keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

My major gripe is that the director resorts to a quite a few petty parlour tricks to keep the tension going. Standard stuff like police knocking at the door, the hero goes to a door being knocked upon and voila, they are at different doors!!

Oh, and really bad things happen. But don't worry, he wakes up and he was just dreaming. Aasrgggh.

Every clue the STASI investigate is almost solved at the very last second but just not quite in time to catch them.

Never been done before. Cheesy....

Really not necessary given the truth is so incredibly tense.

That said, pretty well made. OKish..
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9/10
The movie-watching mood was successfully mobilized
zzhhhqing23 March 2020
No matter how severe the political oppression is, the desire to escape is so strong. The movie-watching mood was successfully mobilized, and all the way nervous.
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Intense and engaging
Gordon-1112 April 2020
This film portrays the omnipresent white fear of the Communist society perfectly. I feel so sorry for those who lived, or are living, in such circumstances. The story is so intense and engaging, that it got me crying in the end. Beautiful!
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8/10
Vivid Family Bond Escape War Drama
roger-99-17159912 February 2020
A masterly crafted political thriller set in 1979's communist East Germany, director Michael Herbig's suspenseful drama follows the desperate actions and courageous escape of two families, running from the pressures and horrors of Civil War, as they attempt to sail over the border in a homemade hot-air balloon. Winner of the Audience Choice Award at Heartland International Film Festival, the film centers on the strong bond and dedication of a father and mother, and their two sons. It also deeply observes the reactions over the children, creating a parallel story: the oldest one is living his first romance with the daughter of an official, while the youngest demonstrates conflicts with innocence and the acceptance of a divided nation. As they fail on their first risky attempt, they are forced to re-arrange their plans for a new balloon, while The Stasi speeds up an investigation, rapidly tracking them. Based on an adventurous true story, vividly performed by a convincing cast, especially Friedrich Mücke, as Peter Strelzyk the leader of the Balloon Operation, it's a triumphant family drama.
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8/10
Suspenseful & Thought Provoking
benchageg26 January 2020
The film is well directed and suspenseful right until the end. To think it is a true story is mesmerizing.
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8/10
Better than expected
Luigi Di Pilla5 September 2020
It was a hell ride with much courage. Fast paced and full of suspense until the end. All the costumes and sceneries were well adapted in the seventies look and I felt to be back in this horrible Stasi time. All the actors, the director and all the staff made a great job. Watch it. 8/10
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Tense and exciting
Phil_Chester3 April 2020
Warning: Spoilers
A tense and exciting tale of a successful escape attempt from East Germany into West Germany via homemade hot air balloon. The script and performances are all excellent and it's a great watch. Definitely worth your time.
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