the Heavy Water War

Last watched early 2016


Everyone is looking to make the bomb. The bomb, the atomic bomb. World War II is happening and the race to make the ultimate weapon is neck and neck. Suddenly, an aluminium plant in Norway is getting a lot of requests for one of the byproducts in making aluminium, known as heavy water.

When both sides discover how crucial heavy water is in the production of bombs, the stakes rise to gain and block people’s access to it.


I’m a big fan of historical drama and not the biggest fan of historical drama that focuses around (white, cis, straight) men. So I went into the Heavy Water War with trepidation. As per usual, however, the nords produced a work that is compelling, fleshed out and self reflexive enough to overlook certain shortcomings.

Unlike something along the lines of Peaky Blindersthe Heavy Water War isn’t created as a venue for men to have a massive wank. (Seriously, that show is 95% “how can we make violence and toxic masculinity look cool?”). The Heavy Water War is concerned with history, authenticity and respect of the past and it’s evident in the product. I am always a little irked by the stories around war because more often than not they turn the stories of war into nationalistic fables; a jingoistic propaganda. The Heavy Water War is deeply critical of both sides and their actions while also being compelling enough for me to marathon the entire series.

Pros: well written, well directed, well acted
Cons: not enough people of colour, not enough women
Genre: Historical drama

Approach carefully if: you have difficulty with plot lines that present mass-murder “for the greater good” in an ambiguous light, war plots

Can be found: Netflix
Accessibility: subtitles 🙂

If you liked, I recommend: the Long, Long HolidayBomb Girls, Restless, the Bletchley Circle, Manhattan, Call the Midwife


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