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Night Crossing DVD Review

Night Crossing

Theatrical Release: February 5, 1982 / Running Time: 107 Minutes / Rating: PG

Director: Delbert Mann

Cast: John Hurt (Peter Strelzyk), Jane Alexander (Doris Strelzyk), Doug McKeon (Frank Strelzyk), Keith McKeon (Fitscher Strelzyk), Beau Bridges (Guenter Wetzel), Glynnis O'Connor (Petra Wetzel)

Review by Captain Hook

The Cold War pitted the people of Germany against each other, with the western side being a Democratic nation backed by the Western powers and the eastern side under the Communist control. In 1979, two families, the Strelzyks and the Wetzels, actually flew a hot-air balloon, which they made themselves, over the border of East German and landed safely in West German. Walt Disney Pictures gained the rights to the story of this incredible undertaking and in 1982 released the film Night Crossing.

The film begins with the sullen and dreary East Germany; Mrs. Strelzyk's (Jane Alexander) shopping in a pitiful market makes one cringe and hope they will never be forced to go through something as terrible as not having enough food to eat. From then on, this miraculous adventure is brought to the screen incredibly fast-paced and tense, a diversion from earlier 70s films. The film is rated PG, but only for the incredible suspense and fear for the families' lives.

The actors involved with this film are absolutely convincing, and include John Hurt and Beau Bridges. Each carries an important part of the story and make it believable that the movie was a true story.

At the end of the film, one cannot help but be grateful for living in a free country. These eight individuals who escaped were willing to give up their lives for freedom, and this poses an interesting question to all of us how often do we take for granted the liberties we have in free countries?

I could continue on and on about this film, for it is one of the greatest films I have ever seen (Disney or not). However, it seems again that Disney has taken no pride in its work, and has released a shabby full screen release of a great classic.

Buy Night Crossing from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.33:1 Pan & Scan
Dolby Surround 2.0 (English, French)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Closed Captioned
Release Date: March 2, 2004
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
White Keepcase


Video quality goes from decent to quite terrible. Being in full screen, and not its original aspect ratio, is again bothersome and a terrible practice for Disney to continue.

Nothing out of the ordinary is presented on the disc. With Dolby Digital Surround Sound, French Language Track, and Spanish/English subtitles, everything is clear and easily understood. It's a shame that it wasn't presented in DD 5.1, in which many scenes would have benefited.


One trailer highlighting other Disney films, most from the 60s and 70s, including The Parent Trap and both Apple Dumpling Gang films. That's it, unless you count the newly created "Movie Showcase" on the back of the Scene Selections DVD Guide. It recommends that you "Add These Film Favorites To Your Collection Today", Miracle at Midnight, The Other Side of Heaven, and Ruby Bridges, all outstanding movies based on true stories.

The menus are static 16:9 screens.


For as terrible as the DVD is, the movie is so superb that I am going to do something I have never done before (and probably never will again): I encourage all of your to actually buy this film. Even though picture and audio quality could have been improved, and extras in the form of a Vault Disney or Special Edition release should have been included, this film is so incredible that it is worth having it in this somewhat shabby form.

More on the DVD

UltimateDisney.com | Review Index | Recent Live Action (1980-Present) Films Page

Other '80s Films Reviewed
Return to Oz (1985) | The Watcher in the Woods (1981)
Never Cry Wolf (1983) | The Journey of Natty Gann (1985)

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