During the war in Vietnam, thousands of people in the Vietnamese province of Cu Chi lived in an elaborate system of underground tunnels. Originally built in the time of the French, the tunnels were enlarged during the American presence. When the Americans began bombing the villages of Cu Chi, the survivors went underground where they remained for the duration of the war.
The secret tunnels, which joined village to village and often passes beneath American bases, were not only fortifications for Viet Cong guerillas, but were also the center of community life. Hidden beneath the destroyed villages were schools and public spaces were hospitals where children were born and surgery was performed on casualties of war: underground were schools and public spaces where couples were married and private places where lovers met. There were even theaters where performers entertained with song and dance and traditional stories.
The Cu Chi Tunnels, a Mickey Grant film, is the story of life underground told by the people who lived the experience. It is a story told by a surgeon, an artist, and actress, an engineer, and the few survivors of the guerilla band who left the tunnels each night to fight against an enemy of vastly superior strength.
Attached to the guerilla bands were Viet Cong documentary cameramen and camerawomen whose footage of the war from the Vietnamese point of view and of love, life and death in the tunnels has survived and is used in the film. This extremely rare footage povides a fascinating kind of echo; we see and hear an actress perform in the wartime tunnels and then hear her describe the experience nearly thirty years later.