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 Enduring Love

The thing about a balloon is that you can’t steer it. Once it takes off there is almost no telling where it may go.

Enduring Love opens with an accident: in a beautiful green field, strangers wrestle with a hot-air balloon that has got out of control. In the basket is a small boy. A freak gust takes the balloon and the boy up into the sky, a man still clinging pathetically to the anchor rope, his grip weakening, his hands slipping inch by inch down the hemp rope, as the enormous red balloon drifts higher and higher into the deep blue sky.

This is the shot we were all most worried about. We needed perfect conditions. We needed the wind to be from the southwest, so that the balloon would move away from the cameras into the beautiful Chiltern valley we had picked for the scene, but the wind had to be running at exactly the right speed. Too fast, and ballooning became unsafe. Too slow, and the balloon would only rise vertically. We needed the sun to be shining brightly. And we needed everything to be absolutely ready at the precise golden moment: five actors, the stunt man, five cameras and their crews, riggers, balloon pilots, and many others. Our best advice was to attempt the shot at around 5 pm, when the light was still good, but when the winds would habitually die down to a three-knot whisper. Once the balloon had taken off, there was no way it could be reset: it would have to complete its flight, find a friendly looking field some miles away, land, be deflated, rolled up, packed into a Land Rover and driven back again along tortuous country lanes. We would only get one attempt at the shot per day.

So we scheduled this shot at the end of every day of our first week shooting in that gorgeous field: none of us were mad enough to think we’d get it on the first day. The time came, though, and we prepared. The experts launched party balloons filled with helium to gauge the wind speed as it ebbed: the stuntman checked and rechecked his harness and the clips that would hold him to the rope: everyone began working very quietly, loading film, and setting up the cameras. The balloonists launched their final test and gave the thumbs up, and our gigantic, blood-red, specially made balloon rose like a huge apple from the Garden of Eden, and proceeded to drift with absolute majesty across the Oxfordshire countryside…with a man dangling fifty feet below it on a rope. We let it drift away from us, open-mouthed in awe, until the film ran out on all the cameras; by then it was a mile and a half away. We radioed a “cut” to the balloon team, and our congratulations, and that we’d got it, and that we didn’t need to do it ever again, and the stuntman, Lee Seward, let go of the rope, let the harness and the clip take his weight, produced a banana from out of his jacket pocket, and proceeded to eat it, quite slowly, floating serenely towards Oxford.

 

A picnic in the English countryside suddenly becomes a crisis as a hot air balloon plunges from the sky. When it's discovered a young boy is in danger, Joe (Daniel Craig) and three other men race to the rescue—but one of them meets his death. Joe is haunted with guilt for his part in the matter, while another rescuer, intense and obsessive Jed (Rhys Ifans), fixates on Joe and sets out to systematically destabilize Joe's life, career and relationship with his girlfriend (Samantha Morton). A new thriller from director Roger Michell (Changing Lanes, The Mother), based on Ian McEwan's best-selling novel.