A television adaptation of Michael Frayn's celebrated and award-winning stage play about the meeting between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in 1941 Copenhagen. At this time the... See full summary »

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Magrethe Bohr
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A television adaptation of Michael Frayn's celebrated and award-winning stage play about the meeting between physicists Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg in 1941 Copenhagen. At this time the young Heisenberg was leading a faltering German research program into nuclear energy, while the middle-aged and apparently isolated Bohr was in contact with allied agents, and still held a position of great influence in the nuclear physics research community. After the meeting the two men put different interpretations or impressions of why Heisenberg requested the meeting, and what he hoped to gain from it, a theme which mirrors the ambiguity of the "Copenhagen" interpretation widely used in quantum physics. Did Heisenberg go to the avuncular Bohr to seek his blessing for his role in nuclear research? Why did Heisenberg concentrate on the development of a nuclear reactor, and not perform the calculations which would show that a bomb could be made to work via a fast-neutron reaction in Uranium 235? ... Written by Simon Shearn

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Drama | History | War

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27 September 2002 (UK)  »

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Copenhage  »

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Trivia

The original Broadway production of "Copenhagen" by Michael Frayn opened at the Royale Theater on April 11, 2000, ran for 326 performances and won the 2000 Tony Award for the Best Play. Michael Frayn's script was used as the basis of the screenplay for the movie version. See more »

Goofs

When Bohr digresses on the fission chain reaction, he indicates that one fissioned uranium atom is enough to move a speck of dust, then "until eventually after, let's say eighty generations, two hundred and eighty specks of dust have been moved, enough specks of dust to constitute an entire city." Rather than 280, the number is 2^80, as the result of eighty doublings (indicating the rather important carat exponent symbol was left out of the script or omitted by the actor). The number reads as two to the eightieth power... about a trillion trillion. See more »

Connections

Featured in Zomergasten: Episode #18.3 (2005) See more »

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theater/TV drama at its absolute best
9 September 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Caught this TV drama on PBS at midnight. Didn't know anything about the play. Thought it would be something a bit starchy and pompous, and in a matter of minutes I was glued to the screen, especially when Stephen Rea (plays Bohr) gets into action...Obviously, people know by now that the play is a masterpiece, but this BBC production in the hands of Howard Davies (director) makes a superb job of conveying something that was and/or might have been. All three characters become fully alive, but again I was hypnotized by Stephen Rea's amazing acting performance. The guy even looked Danish, he probably doesn't look like the real Bohr, but he invented a fully credible character, using eyebrows, stooped shoulders, awkward mannerisms the way a world-class physicist can display. For all aspiring actors, this performance is a must-see. And of course, the huge issue of whether Heisenberg was sincere, duplicitous, suspicious, naive...Frayn gives us all the possibilities. It seems Heisenberg is badly treated by history for having been in charge of the Nazi Atomic program. I re-read this sentence, and I think, well, duh...well it's not that simple, and I have to watch or read the play again. Howard Davies does an amazing job, making a dry a subject something fully engaging, even sensual, with the decor, lighting, costumes/hair/makeup. Camera works are amazing, using a rather contemporary vocabulary of sweeping movements, staccato- like shots, smooth editing, etc...And of course, the issues dealt in the play resonate a long time afterward watching it. I'm pouring over the net to get all kinds of infos. So for example, if the Alllies had not made the Atomic bomb, maybe the Germans wouldn't have either, since they were lacking crucial clues in the physics. But that's a chance the Allies didn't want to take.


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