The Heroes of Telemark
Director Anthony Mann
Initial DVD release March 6, 2007
Genre Action, Drama, History
Music director Malcolm Arnold
|Language English, German, Norwegian|
Writer Ben Barzman, Ivan Moffat
Release date 1965
Based on Skis Against the Atom 1954 novel by Knut Haukelid But for These Men 1962 novel by John Drummond
Cast Kirk Douglas (Dr. Rolf Pedersen), Richard Harris (Knut Straud), Ulla Jacobsson (Anna Pedersen)
Similar movies Max Manus: Man of War, Fury, When Trumpets Fade, Hell Is for Heroes, None But the Brave, The Thin Red Line
The Heroes of Telemark is a British 1965 Eastman Color war film directed by Anthony Mann based on the true story of the Norwegian heavy water sabotage during World War II from "Skis Against the Atom," the memoirs of Norwegian resistance soldier Knut Haukelid. The film stars Kirk Douglas as Dr Rolf Pedersen and Richard Harris as Knut Straud, along with Ulla Jacobsson as Anna Pedersen. It was filmed on location in Norway.
The heroes of telemark 1965
The Norwegian resistance sabotage the Vemork Norsk Hydro plant in the town of Rjukan in the county of Telemark, Norway, which the Nazis are using to produce heavy water, which could be used in the manufacture of an atomic bomb.
Kirk Douglas plays Rolf Pedersen, a Norwegian physics professor, who, though originally content to wait out the war, is soon pulled into the struggle by local resistance leader Knut Straud (based on Knut Haukelid, portrayed by Richard Harris).
They are both smuggled to Britain to have microfilmed plans of the hydroelectric plant examined, and then return to Norway to plan a commando raid. When a force of Royal Engineers, who were to carry it out, are all killed, Pedersen and Straud lead a small force of saboteurs into the plant. The raid is successful, but the Germans quickly repair the equipment.
The Germans then plan to ship steel drums of heavy water to Germany. Pedersen and Straud sabotage a ferry carrying the drums, and it sinks in the deepest part of a fjord.
Besides this sequence, the raids (Operations Grouse, Freshman, and Gunnerside) and the final attack are depicted in location filming, in which snowy Norwegian locations serve as a backdrop for the plot.
Knut Haukelid wrote a memoir of the attack called Skis Against the Atom published in 1954. John Drummond wrote a novel based on the same story called But for These Men. Both books formed the basis of the screenplay.
The film was originally announced in 1963. It was made by Benton Film Productions, a company of director Anthony Mann and producer S. Benjamin Fisz. Financing came from America's Allied Artists and Britain's J Arthur Rank Productions.
SF Ammonia was used to represent SF Hydro in the final scene.
The movie was originally called The Unknown Battle and was to star Stephen Boyd and Elke Sommer and be written by Ben Barzman. Later Anthony Perkins was announced as star. Eventually Kirk Douglas signed as the lead. Cliff Robertson was mentioned as a possible co-star before Richard Harris came on board.
"I hear they are spending five million dollars, so it's got to be spectacular and that means more fiction and less fact," said Haukelid during filming.
It was amongst the 15 most popular films at the British box office in 1966.
Stephen Boyd later sued Mann for half a million dollars for dropping him from the film. "I missed out on four good roles and plenty of money when he signed me without financial backing and then dropped the project," said Boyd later. "He asked me again later but I'd made other commitments so Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris made it under another title."
Ray Mears made a documentary called The Real Heroes of Telemark. Despite mainly sticking to the factual evidence, some scenes in the documentary, like the film, were partly dramatised, focusing more on the survival skills involved in the operation.
The same story was also covered in the 1948 Franco-Norwegian film Kampen om tungtvannet (La bataille de l'eau lourde — "The battle for heavy water"). Quite faithful to the real events, it even had many of the original Norwegian commandos starring as themselves.
In 2015 the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation showed a TV series called Kampen om tungtvannet (also known as The Heavy Water War or The Saboteurs) based on the events.
The Saboteur, Andrew Gross' latest book, is a fictionalized portrayal of events with Kurt Nordstrum portraying Kurt Haukelid.
ReferencesThe Heroes of Telemark Wikipedia
The Heroes of Telemark IMDbThe Heroes of Telemark themoviedb.org