2 September 2006 | bob the moo
Well written and pretty interesting even if it is hard work here and there for the uninitiated
Occupied Copenhagen during the second world war is the stage for the meeting of colleagues Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. Young Werner has come to talk to Niels. The former is leading the faltering German research programme into nuclear energy while the latter is the acknowledged as the leading expert in nuclear fission by the physics community. Years after the event this play brings Niels, Werner and Margrethe Bohr back together again to discuss their different interpretations of their meetings and their relative roles within the development of the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.
Although this is not the most accessible play or subject, it is still a rather engaging film. My knowledge of the development of nuclear theory physics could be comfortably fitted onto the back of a postage stamp (and not one of those bigger, commemorative ones either) and I had never heard of any of these people or the theories they discussed in this film. But yet I understood the majority of it and found myself easily carried along by the dialogue. I imagine it would have been more interesting if I had had this knowledge but as it was it was still interesting. But it wasn't gripping or that engaging. By having the characters look backwards together the script does a good job of explaining the discussions and their wider ramifications to a degree. I say "to a degree" because I thought it could have done it better for someone like me, someone who knows nothing about anything when they press play for the first time.
The dialogue is well written though, varying between explaining the theory and debating the morals well without ever making it seem forced again a strength of the "looking back" approach. Craig and Rae impress in their delivery but I would have liked more feeling to run through them. Annis stands up well with both the men and she is used well to provide insight from outside of the two main characters. Davies' direction is pretty good and retains the feel of a play without restricting the locations too much or making it feel stage bound.
Overall then an interesting film but one that will have limited appeal and I understand why. It does well to make it accessible to viewers not familiar with the subject, although it still does have room for improvement as I wanted it to impact me more than it did. Worth a look though as something different which is well written and pretty interesting.