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Copenhagen [Import USA Zone 1]
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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?--Ce texte fait référence à l'édition DVD.
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At the time of the meeting Germany was occupying Denmark and Heisenberg was the director of the secret German project to work on atomic weapons. There are multiple theories why Heisenberg chose to visit Bohr, a political enemy but a revered and respected teacher. Although some theories are more plausible than others, there are still strong emotions generated by attempts to clarify Heisenberg's motivation. The drama is heightened by the earth shaking consequences possible had Heisenberg been successful. But the meeting went awry and neither participant ever clarified the story during their long lifetimes.
The play's artistry is not to dramatize the meeting in such a way as to support one theory or the other---but precisely the opposite. Frayn very cleverly uses the language of quantum mechanics to emphasize the uncertainty of motives and to draw a parallel between our knowledge of each other and ourselves and our knowledge of the physical world as constrained by Heisenberg's indeterminancy principle.
This is interesting history of science, political history and beautiful art. It is well acted and nicely filmed.
Francesca Annis is simply wonderful as the wife of Danish Physicist Niels Bohr. She is as brittle and supportive of her husband as she is distrustful and yet tender to their old friend, German physicist Werner Heisenberg. Stephen Rea towers in his portrayal of Bohr and commands the screen in velvet gloved over steel performance. His role is one of such extreme depth and subtlety that I was truly impressed with what he delivered. As Heisenberg, Daniel Craig is a towering presence. Not that the personality of the man he plays is towering, but in his grasp of the complexities and conundrums is. What he does with the slight turn of the head, the shifting of the eyes and the turn of the mouth or the pout of his lips is a lesion in the art of screen acting. It is all about thinking and Craig lets us see what he is thinking. He has the ability to inhabit the moment and let the deepest and sometimes the guarded emotions play across his face.
So here you have three great actors in a challenging work that is worthy of your time you might give to it. This film raises an important question, that of moral responsibility to humanity and when it is split like an atom by the three characters it multiplies the question into even deeper ones of loyalty, friendship, and love. A wonderful experience is waiting your arrival in "Copenhagen".
If you want to see brilliantly acted characters, watch Copenhagen.
If you want to be pulled into a wonderful work of moral complexity, watch Copenhagen.
Copenhagen brings to life questions of history, science, friendship and morality as it seelessly twists together dramatic dialogue and scientific explanations to the point that the science is the dialogue.
How it does this and still avoid becoming esoteric and stilted I can't explain, but it does.
That so much of the play is a conversation between ghosts seems like dry humor, since two men who practically defined the nature of an atom must become supernatural just to speak to each other once more.
True, this is clearly a filmed stage play as opposed to being a true movie, but the power of the performances and the beauty of the concept more than makes up for this forgivable condition. Steven Rea alone makes the film worthwhile.
You may not laugh out loud.
You may not cry your way through a box of tissues.
You may not dig your finger nails into the arms of your chair. But, if you give this film a chance, you will enjoy it.