The Tunnel (NBC documentary)
The Tunnel was a 90-minute black-and-white documentary film that chronicled how three West Berlin university students organized the escape of 59 friends and family members by digging a tunnel underneath the Berlin Wall. Produced by Reuven Frank and narrated by Piers Anderton, it was an NBC White Paper installment that was broadcast on December 10, 1962 and sponsored by the Gulf Oil Corporation.
The Tunnel earned three Emmy Awards in 1963. It was the only documentary to receive the award as The Program of the Year. It was also honored for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Documentary (awarded to Frank) and Outstanding Achievement in International Reporting (awarded to Anderton).
The Tunnel was the basis for a pair of similarly named German projects (Der Tunnel) which were released just under four decades after the original. One was the 1999 documentary directed by Marcus Vetter, which featured the NBC footage accompanied by firsthand accounts from the actual participants. The other was the 2001 television movie production directed by Roland Suso Richter, which was loosely based on the events recorded in the original.
|“||Every news story should, without sacrifice of probity and responsibility, display the attributes of fiction, of drama. It should have structure and conflict, problem and denouement, rising and falling action, a beginning, a middle, and an end. These are not only the essentials of drama; they are the essentials of narrative. We are in the business of narrative because we are in the business of communication.||”|
Controversy & postponement
The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) officially announced on October 11, 1962 that it was going to televise the documentary on October 31 from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. (EST). Reluctant to add to global tensions in light of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the television network decided on October 23 to indefinitely postpone the broadcast.
- Girrmann Group, another group of students who organized escapes through the sewers in 1961
- Korean Demilitarized Zone#Incursion tunnels
- Bliss, Edward. Now the News: The Story of Broadcast Journalism. New York City: Columbia University Press, 1991.
- "Former NBC News Exec Reuven Frank Dies," Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Monday, February 6, 2006.
- 1962–1963 Emmy Awards – infoplease.
- Piers Barron Anderton (death notice), San Francisco Chronicle, Thursday, September 23, 2004.
- Der Tunnel (The Tunnel) – Filmperspektive.
- Der Tunnel (The Tunnel) – Under The Radar (magazine).
- Braun, Joshua A. "The Imperatives of Narrative: Health Interest Groups and Morality in Network News," The American Journal of Bioethics, August 2007.
- Adams, Val. "N.B.C.-TV Plans Documentary On Berlin Tunnel It Helped Build," The New York Times, Friday, October 12, 1962.
- Shepard, Richard F. "N.B.C. Postpones Tunnel Telecast," The New York Times, Wednesday, October 24, 1962.
- NBC Special Report: The Tunnel – NBC News Archives.
- The Tunnel (transcript) – NBC Learn.
- Steinberg, Jacques. "Reuven Frank, Producer Who Pioneered TV News Coverage at NBC, Is Dead at 85," The New York Times, Tuesday, February 7, 2006.
- Collins, Scott. "Reuven Frank, 85; NBC Producer Helped Launch 'Huntley-Brinkley' Show, Los Angeles Times, Tuesday, February 7, 2006.