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Anti-communist East German swimming champion Harry Melchior (Heino Ferch) narrowly escapes the Communist regime just after the Berlin Wall is completed, and is determined to rescue his beloved sister, whom he was forced to leave behind.
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A gripping escape plan provides the narrative spine to The Tunnel, an exciting Cold War story. This film fictionalizes the true story of the digging of a 430-foot tunnel running under the Berlin Wall in 1964, as tunnel rats on the west side labor to find a way out for friends and family in the Communist East. The principals are led by a famous German swimmer (the excellent Heino Ferch, sort of the German Bruce Willis), whose sister is trapped in East Berlin. Juicy characters abound, including some compromised East Berliners and unlikely heroes on the West side. Also incorporated into this story is an American TV news crew shooting the digging as it goes along. Director Roland Suso Richter shot The Tunnel for television and if it is somewhat artless, it still grabs the viewer in irresistible suspense--and sustains the tension for 167 minutes. Like its heroes, this film is dogged and emotionally committed. --Robert Horton
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