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The Tunnel (2001)—GermanThe Tunnel (2001)—German

In the 1960s there were dozens of tunnels dug underneath the Berlin Wall that was erected in August of 1961. This docu-drama tells the story of one of the first and more famous tunnels. Hasso Herschel (renamed Harry Melchior in the film) was a famous swimmer in East Germany who walked across Checkpoint Charlie in disguise and with a fake passport on August 26, 1961, just two weeks after the wall was built and he had become a national sports hero. Having spent four years in prison already, he had had enough. That much is made clear in the first fifteen minutes of the film. The next two hours-plus recount how he and his companions dug a tunnel 15-20 feet deep and 500 feet long back into East Germany, and then helped more than a thousand people escape to freedom in the next twenty years. Each person has their own story of fear, compromise, accommodation, regret, and bravery, including the ominous Stasi agent Herr Kruger. At 167 minutes this film is way too long, but it's a grim reminder of political oppression and the human will for freedom and family that it provokes. In German with English subtitles.

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