The Double Helix
This film tells the story of the scientists and the evidence involved in one of the most important scientific quests of the 20th century: the discovery of the structure of DNA.
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 chase, culminating in the classic 1953 publication in Nature on the structure of DNA. 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.
The “Abbreviated Film Guide” provides a short summary of the film, along with key concepts and connections to curriculum standards.
An audio descriptive version of the film is available via our media player.
deoxyribose, nitrogenous base, nucleotide, scientific model, structural biology, X-ray crystallography
Franklin, Rosalind E., and R. G. Gosling. “Molecular configuration in sodium thymonucleate.” Nature 171 (1953): 740-741.
Watson, J. D., and F. H. C. Crick. “A structure for deoxyribose nucleic acid.” Nature 171 (1953): 737-738.
Wilkins, M. H. F., A. R. Stokes, and H. R. Wilson. “Molecular structure of deoxypentose nucleic acids.” Nature 171 (1953): 738-740.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS1.A, HS-LS3.A, HS-LS3.B, HS-PS2.B, HS-PS4.C
AP Biology (2019)
IB Biology (2016)
2.6, 2.7, 3.4, 7.1, 7.2
Vision and Change (2009)