James Watson and Francis Crick collected and interpreted key evidence to determine that DNA molecules take the shape of a twisted ladder—a double helix. The film presents the challenges, false starts, and eventual success of their bold chase, culminating in the classic 1953 publication in Nature on the structure of DNA. Watson relates what those early days in the Cavendish Laboratory were like, including his friendship with Crick and their shared ambition and passion. Rarely seen archival footage is combined with interviews with some of today’s leading scientists to bring this landmark discovery and all of its implications to life.
"This film provides an excellent summary of how James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the molecular structure of DNA. It packs a tremendous amount of information into a short time frame […] I highly recommend this video for classroom use and plan to use it in my own."
—David W. Allard, American Biology Teacher, May 2014
"'What a great excuse to throw out my old PowerPoint on the discovery of the DNA structure,' I thought, after I viewed this short film. Olivia Judson is a captivating narrator and storyteller and the clips of James Watson walking us through his thought process while figuring out how to line up the bases is fascinating for my students. The In-Depth Film Guide is better than a textbook and answers all the major questions students have about the discovery of the structure of DNA. Before watching the film, I have students answer as many questions on the quiz as they can, then we use the quiz questions as our discussion guide after the film."