TITLECopenhagen Fallout
DISTRIBUTORTop Documentary Films
RUNNING TIME59 minutes
Web Access
Available online from British Broadcasting Company

The focus of this documentary film is the relationship of Danish physicist Niels Bohr and his protégé, German scientist Werner Heisenberg, which revolutionized physics in the 1930s. It traces both their scientific collaboration and close friendship during the period in which the Nazis came to power in Germany and climaxes with their famous 1941 Copenhagen meeting. The discovery of nuclear fission in Germany in 1938, the prospective role of Heisenberg in developing a German atomic bomb, and the German invasion of Demark strained the relationship between the two men. The film explores what transpired during the meeting where Heisenberg informed Bohr that he was working on the atomic bomb. It then follows the lives of both men, Heisenberg in Germany and Bohr’s flight from Denmark to the United Kingdom and then to Los Alamos to work on the U.S. atomic bomb project. Heisenberg’s post-World War II defense of his actions and his attempts to explain those actions to Bohr conclude the film. Bohr died without commenting on the Copenhagen meeting, but his opinions on Heisenberg’s motivations for the meeting are revealed in his unsent letters to Heisenberg. Interviews with peers and historians, newly released documents (2000), historic footage and photographs, and an excellent narrative combine to make the film an interesting, informative presentation.

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