After the end of World War II, the Allies portioned out their captured territory. The East and West were separated by the Inner German Border and subsequently the more famous Berlin Wall. During the 45 years this delineation separated capitalism and communism, over a thousand people lost their lives trying to cross it. In his new film, Balloon, Michael Herbig documents one of the most famous successful escapes.

In 1978, friends Peter (Friedrich Mücke) and Doris Strelzyk (Karoline Schuch) and Günter (David Kross) and Petra Wetzel (Alicia von Rittberg) began discussing plans to flee to the West. They decide that the best way to cross is over the border. They begin work on constructing a balloon which will take them and their children over fence. Despite several setbacks they’re determined to reach freedom.

Balloon is a meticulously crafted period drama which captures the look and feel of the time. However, instead of soaring and reaching new heights it soon loses altitude and, quite aptly, only just makes it over the finish line. Whilst the tale is told, in a fashion, Herbig never quite manages to build up any sustainable tension. Balloon ends up feeling like an exercise in recounting a story by rote. Far too much hot air and not enough energy or attention to plot development.

The Balloon is released on DVD and Digital by Studiocanal on 7 October.