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:: The Tunnel

Like the tunnel itself, this film both epically long and a terrific achievement. Mostly because the story is true. Roland Suso Richter’s 2001 film opens in 1961 as Communist East Germany begins constructing the Berlin Wall. In the opening scenes we see a re-enactment, of sorts, of the famous photo depicting a GDR soldier leaping over barbed wire from East to West. It is this attention to detail that takes the audience up-close to the desperation facing those seeking to flee.

The film captures audience empathy by depicting ordinary, unglorified characters trapped in grim times. It begins with the separation of two families; the men escape to the West and the women don’t make it. So, friends Harry (Heino Ferch) and Matthis (Sebastian Koch) come up with a plan; they set out to build a tunnel stretching underneath the wall, from an abandoned factory near the border. The project attracts others similarly separated from loved ones and they start digging.

A young woman on the West, Fritzi (Nicolette Krebitz), rolls up her sleeves and goes underground in an attempt to save her fianc√©’ ironically forced to pave the final touches on the wall. When his attempts to climb over fail, Fritzi is left to hear him die from the other side.

This scene opens the second act of the film, when sadness evolves to anger and the omni-present secret police, the Stasi, begin to close in on the tunnel. Akin to brilliant 2007 film The Lives of Others (Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck) the final hour of the film is quickly paced, moody and sinister.

The tunnel is both a political thriller and historical drama with an authentic documentary feel. Apart from some questionable sub-titles, the film is packaged well on DVD. Added extra’s includes a ‘making of’ for those that want to know more about how this amazing true story was brought to life.

DVD Extras

interviews with cast and crew
25 minute Featurette “The Making Of”