The Heroes of Telemark (1965)

Approved  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  12 December 1965 (Norway)
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Ratings: 6.4/10 from 4,673 users  
Reviews: 46 user | 14 critic

Norwegian resistance tries to stop German troops to produce an atomic bomb component during WW2. Based on a true story.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Weston ...
Sebastian Breaks ...
John Golightly ...
Patrick Jordan ...
William Marlowe ...
Anton Diffring ...
Major Frick
Ralph Michael ...
Eric Porter ...


Set in German-occupied Norway, this is an embellished account of the remarkable efforts of the Norwegian resistance to sabotage the German development of the atomic bomb. Resistance fighter Knut Straud enlists the reluctant physicist Rolf Pedersen in an effort to destroy the German heavy water production plant near the village of Rjukan in rural Telemark. In the process, Pedersen discovers that his ex-wife Anna and her uncle have also joined the resistance. British commandos dispatched to destroy the plant are killed when their glider hits the mountainside at night. An improvised raid by the resistance ends in the partial destruction of the heavy water canisters, but the contingency plans of Reichskommissar Terboven enable the Germans to resume production quickly. Pedersen wants to recommend to London that the Allies bomb the plant. Straud opposes him because of the potential death toll on Norwegian civilians and a fight ensues. They send in separate recommendations, and the air raid ... Written by Peter Grosvenor

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Unarmed and outnumbered, they stunned the world with their incredible victory. (Movie poster) See more »


Action | Drama | History | War


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Release Date:

12 December 1965 (Norway)  »

Also Known As:

Anthony Mann's The Heroes of Telemark  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,600,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)


(archive footage)| (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


At one point, Stephen Boyd and Elke Sommer were to play the leads. See more »


The 'British uniform' is correct but for commando peaked caps, non issue to general UK troops in the war. See more »


[Knut hands a revolver to Rolf who looks rather shocked to be given it]
Knut: [humourously] You know what to do? Press this little thing here and the bullets come out there.
See more »


Featured in War Stories (2006) See more »


Wir fahren gegen Engeland
Music by Herms Niel
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User Reviews

Subdued but fairly interesting war thriller.
6 February 2003 | by (Todmorden, England) – See all my reviews

The Heroes of Telemark is based on a real-life story. It follows a unit of the Norweigan resistance in their efforts to destroy a German occupied factory, where the Germans are drawing near to creating the first atomic bomb. Kirk Douglas plays an academic from the University of Oslo who is brought in to help them because he is an expert on atomic science. Richard Harris plays the leader of the resistance fighters, a strong willed and courageous man who is always thinking of the best way to be a thorn in the side of the Nazis. There are other decent characterisations too, such as Ulla Jacobsen as Douglas's ex-wife (they parted because he seduced one of his students) and Eric Porter as a power hungry Nazi.

The film is quite good, but it might have been better still. For much of the running time, it seems curiously subdued, with lots of scenes which don't quite screw home the tension as far as they could. The sequence in which the resistance fighters infiltrate the factory and attempt to destroy the German's heavy water supply should have been unbearably tense, but it kind of comes and goes without generating the necessary atmosphere. The closing sequence aboard a boat full of children is very well done, though, and there's another taut bit where Douglas and Jacobsen are almost caught snooping around the factory but manage to convince a passing guard that they are merely young lovebirds trying to find a quiet spot for a bit of private love-making.

The Heroes of Telemark tells a worthy story and is reasonably entertaining, but it could have been a touch better if the maker's had concentrated slightly harder on the suspense.

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I think 20th Century Fox is remaking this, titled Fire and Water. tempobabempo
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