Balloon

May 31, 19 Balloon

IN CINEMAS NOW as part of the
GERMAN FILM FESTIVAL

SYNOPSIS:

Known for Germany’s all-time biggest grossing movies Manitou’s Shoe (2001) and Dreamship Surprise (2004), comedy personality Michael “Bully” Herbig now makes his directing foray into thrillers, recreating a gripping historical event.

1979, East Germany at the height of the Cold War. Günter Wetzel (David Kross, The Reader), a bricklayer, and his friend Peter Strelzyk (Friedrich Mücke), an electrician, can no longer bear the oppressive regime. The two men and their wives resolve to undertake a mission to secretly build a hot air balloon from scratch that will carry them and their families over the border fence to freedom. Over the course of the next 18 months they sew 1,000 square metres of cloth and gather countless weather reports from West German radio with the Stasi (State Police) hot on their heels. A nerve-racking battle against the clock begins…

https://germanfilmfestival.com.au

Thanks to Palace Cinemas & The German Film Festival

REVIEW:

Nerida

‘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 ‘Balloon’ 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’t 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, ‘Balloon’ also shows very well the effects authoritarian societies has 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 this brings you another aspect of it all.

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