Copenhagen (BBC film adaptation)

DOI: 10.5040/9781350996755.01

Duration: 1:41:10

  • Copenhagen 1:41:10

A BBC/KCET Hollywood co-production, Copenhagen is a stylish screen adaptation of Michael Frayn’s award winning stage-play about science, friendship and the uncertainty of things. In 1941, the German physicist Werner Heisenberg made a strange trip to Copenhagen to see his Danish counterpart, Niels Bohr. The pair had once been great friends and close colleagues who had revolutionised atomic physics in the 1920s with their work together on quantum mechanics and the uncertainty principle. But now the world had changed and the two men were on opposite sides in a world war. Their meeting was fraught with danger and embarrassment and ended in disaster. Ever since, historians have wondered why Heisenberg went to Copenhagen and what he wanted to discuss with Bohr. In Michael Frayn’s play, Heisenberg meets Bohr and his wife Margrethe once again to look for the answers and to work out, just as they had once worked out the internal functioning of the atom, how we can ever know why we do what we do.

The stage play premièred in May 1995 at the Royal National Theatre, London and won the 1998 Evening Standard and the Critics’ Circle Awards for Best New Play. Its New York debut was at the Royale Theatre in April 2000. This adaptation features a slightly abbreviated script and is shot on location.

‘Be prepared to go through some serious mental gymnastics to keep up with the action, but it's worth the effort.’ The Guardian

‘I found myself thinking that it worked even better than it had in the theatre. Largely shot in a sparsely furnished country house bathed in chilly Scandinavian light, it was flawlessly constructed, constantly unsettling and deeply moving, with wonderfully judged performances … one of the dramatic highlights of the year.’ Sunday Telegraph


Director: Howard Davies; Cinematographer: Ian Wilson (Emma, The Crying Game); Producer: Richard Fell; Executive Producer: Simon Curtis (Man, Boy); Starring: Stephen Rea (The Crying Game), Daniel Craig (Our Friends in the North, Lara Croft Tomb Raider), Francesca Annis (Deceit, Wives, Daughters)

Distributed under licence from Educational Publishers LLP

From Copenhagen


BBC Video

Michael Frayn

ISBN: 9781350996755

Series: BBC Drama Films and Documentaries