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
The sound track used on this movie is the same one written by Malcolm Arnold for the movie of a true story made in 1958, called The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958) starring Ingrid Bergman as Gladys Aylward the English missionary to China who rescued at least 50 children from the village that was bombed by the Japanese. Based on her own book. See more »
Early in the movie Dr Pedersen enters a boat in Oslo harbor to go to Trondheim. Nobody would take a boat from Oslo to Trondheim (a long trip lasting several days) as there is a direct train lasting 8-10 hours. In any case there was never a regular boat service from Oslo to Trondheim. Later Pedersen says he is going to Kristiansund, a town south of Trondheim. See more »
[Knut hands a revolver to Rolf who looks rather shocked to be given it]
You know what to do? Press this little thing here and the bullets come out there.
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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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