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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
Seventeen years prior to this film, a Norwegian-French movie Kampen om tungtvannet (1948) was made which covered the same events of the World War II Telemark mission as depicted in this film. This earlier movie actually featured some of the original Norwegian commandos who played themselves. See more »
In the last shots of the lifeboats on the lake, the downdraft from the rotor of the camera helicopter is clearly visible on the water. See more »
That is... I must say that is fantastic efficiency!
Don't you ever make the mistake by underrating the Germans. By any means.
By Easter we will not have merely 10000 pounds of heavy water, but 12000 pounds of heavy water.
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When Norway was occupied by the Nazis it had a unique burden to face. With the exception of Winston Churchill all the rest of the Allied political and military leaders favored no military operations to liberate Norway. The war was not to be fought in Scandinavia. Therefore the Norwegians could only sit back and hope for an allied victory in other parts of Europe in order to be free.
Knowing that those who resisted in Norway did it from real anti-fascist conviction and the fact that they wanted to do something against their unwelcome occupiers.
The Heroes of Telemark and the Norwegian film, Kampen om Tungtvannet on the same subject that was previously done showed the Norwegians in their resistance just such a chance even though it did not help one bit in the liberation of their country.
The Nazis have a plant used for making heavy water, deuterium, water made with a hydrogen atom with a neutron as well as a proton. This stuff was critical in the development of the atomic bomb. When a Norwegian scientist got wind of it he gets a message to a colleague played by Kirk Douglas who escapes to Great Britain to inform the Allied High Command.
Douglas goes back to Norway and with Richard Harris makes several attempts to destroy the water. A whole lot of people, British Commandoes and Norwegian citizens die in the attempts made. But the job gets done.
Hey if the job hadn't gotten done, I'd be writing a review of a different kind of film, maybe in German.
Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris prove uneasy allies. In a recent biography of Harris it was reported that he and Harris did not get along at all on this film. Douglas is a talented egotist and Harris was quite the carouser back in those days and also didn't get along with both Marlon Brando and Charlton Heston on films he co-starred with them. Not a good combination for a happy set, but the film got done.
Anthony Mann did some great location photography in Norway for this film, shot on the actual sites. Kirk and Dick on skis, even if it was stunt doubles were something to watch.
The Heroes of Telemark is a good World War II action/adventure film and a nice tribute to the Norwegian resistance.
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