Counterpoint: The U-2 Story
United States of America,
The 1960 U-2 incident, told through the story of spies on different sides of the Iron Curtain, one of whom is the CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers.
Physical formats available:
16mm, Betacam SP
Digital formats available:
Audio & visual:
This tells the story of an American pilot who was shot down in a U-2 spy plane over Soviet Union and a Norwegian fisherman, Selmer Nilsen, who used a carnival as cover to spy on the U-2 for the Russians.
Director: Peter Davis
Narrator introducing Selmer Nilsen. B-roll of Nilsen with fishing net. Nilsen expressing regret at becoming a spy for Russia (English dub).
Narrator introducing CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers. B-roll of Powers pre-flight inspection of single-prop plane. Audio of Powers saying he was “the one that got caught. The one that embarrassed the President. I was the one that embarrassed the CIA, which in no way was my fault.” Narrator concludes scene with tagline.
B-roll of Lockheed U-2 high-altitude spy plane taking off. Title card.
WS INT of radio station and disc jockey introducing Powers. OTS of Powers giving flying traffic report. B-roll of Powers flying, aerial footage of Hollywood Freeway, and WS of airborne plane.
WS of fjord in Norway where Neilson lives.Narrator introduces his background.
Concealed MS of Neilson talking about his father’s murder accusation. English dub.
B/W photo of Powers as a child. B/W shots of coal miners with Powers’ dialogue.
Concealed CU profile shot of Powers talking in hangar about his childhood/informative years.
B/W b-roll of aircraft manufacturing line, fuselage of an aircraft, and installation of aircraft engine.
Shot of plane fuselage to MCU of Powers talking about his first flight and WS of an airborne, single-engine plane.
B-roll of WWII German aircraft, aircraft dropping bombs, german soldiers marching and aerial footage of fjord.
CU Nilsen talking (English dub) about German occupation of Norway and that his parents began spying for the Russians in 1941. B-roll of WWII naval vessels and aircraft in combat.
MS of Nilsen rowing across fjord with narration and English dub. Shots of surrounding landscape. Nilsen pointing out where the Russians would hide their surveillance equipment. B-roll of surroundings.
INT shot of Nilsen’s home. MS of kitchen and boy at table. Nilsen recounts story (English dub) of hiding Russians and brush with German capture.
B/W b-roll of destroyed buildings and rustic structure and boys inc. audio of Nilsen saying he fled into the mountains in 1944 as the Germans destroyed parts of northern Norway. MS of Nilsen, seated, describing events. All dubbed in English.
B/W b-roll of Norwegians celebrating the liberation of northern Norway. Norwegian flag in view. B-roll of Norwegian people rebuilding at the end of the war.
B/W b-roll of German collaborators going into a courthouse. Footage of courthouse and Vidkun Quisling’s trial.
B-roll shots of Nielson cutting and tossing a fish onto a dock, net, and water inc audio of Nilsen saying that a Russian agent returned in 1948. FS of Nelsen saying the agent demanded someone go to Russia with him. WS b-roll of Nilsen’s house. POV WS from a row boat passing the shoreline. Narrator tells us that Nilsen was 17 when he was taken to Russia. English dub.
CU of Nilsen detailing the Russian “school” he was taken to WS b-roll of a dock with a fishing net and house. English dub.
B/W footage of President Truman addressing the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO). WS b-roll of a Nielsen walking and EWS of the fjord.
Footage from an Air Force Recruiting Film: airborne bombers, pilot waving to and kissing woman, engineers preparing “Betty Jo” bomber. Dramatic music playing and title card “AIR POWER IS PEACE POWER”. B/W b-roll.
MS of Powers talking about his first flight test cutting to b-roll of footage from Korean War with narration. MS of Powers reflecting on start of Cold War and saying that fighting in Korea was an act of patriotism.
B/W b-roll of US flag. Narrator explains that Powers was unable to go to war due to health reasons at the time. Air force recruitment film, soldiers saluting the flag.
Various shots of Nilsen’s boat on fjord. Shot of Nilson sat at a table saying he agreed to spy (English dub). MS of boy rowing a boat ZI to CU of Nilson smoking behind him. Narrator tells us of Nilson signing contract with Russians.
B/W photo of Powers with other pilots. EXT FS to CU of Powers, seated, talking about his CIA recruitment.
B/W b-roll of Lockheed U-2 spy plane, on runway and in the air, with narration.
CU of Powers praising the U-2 engineering. B-roll of U-2 in the air with narration describing conditions of flying plane and salary.
Shots of Nilson steering a boat on choppy water, narration detailing nature of his work. English dub.
B-roll of airborne U-2 narration describing first Russian detection and calling it the “Black Lady of Espionage”.
CU of Powers saying he didn’t consider himself a spy. B/W ZO photograph of Powers in pressure suit standing next to U-2. WS b-roll of U-2 on runway, narrator uses the term “Super Snooper”.
Quick ZI/ZO shots of fairground rides and Norwegian flag, narrator tells us that Nilson used “a traveling fun fair as his cover”. VO of Nilson describing his movements (English dub). B-roll of Bodø, Norwegian fishing town. B-roll of Bodø’s military airfield.
WS EXT shot of the Norrona Hotel ZI to rooftop sign. MS EXT shot of hotel rooms. Interview with Nielsen in a hotel room w/liquor, cigarettes and a newspaper saying he’d have parties in one room and his spy equipment in the other.
B-roll shots of Nilson in a field, panning to WS of fjord.
B-roll of U-2 plane in hanger. B-roll of airborne U-2 and CU profile shot of Powers talking about going to Norway. Aerial b-roll of Norwegian fjord, villages and countryside with narration.
MS ZI to CU of interview shot of Nielsen saying he obtained a picture of a U-2.
B-roll of U-2 taxiing on runway, WS of runway and Norwegian harbor.
MS interview shot of Nilsen saying how he’d find out pilots’ destinations during hotel room parties.
B/W photograph of Powers in a flight suit next to U-2 with narration. ZI of photograph of an airfield.
Interview MS to ZI of Powers, seated, detailing his instruction from the CIA if he was shot down.
MS of Nilson in sunglasses showing the camera the barn next to the airfield from where he used his camera. B-roll of U-2 being serviced and taxiing. B/W photo of Powers in flight suit.
CU of Powers talking about the error in communicating his take-off time that was intercepted by the Russians.
Shot of Nilson scaling a hill. B-roll of a wartime bunker and Bodø airfield.
Shot of Powers in a flight suit climbing into a cockpit. B/W b-roll of parade in Red Square. WS b-roll of U-2 take off.
B-roll graphic of a U-2 over a map of the Soviet Union with narration. MS interview with Powers, holding a U-2 model, describing explosion over USSR. B/W b-roll of parade in Red Square.
ECU ZO MS interview w/Powers holding a U-2 model describing the aircraft spinning and attempting to initiate the self-destruct mechanism. B/W photograph of Powers captured.
WS ZI MFS interview of Nielsen in a bunker describing waiting for Power’s U-2 to arrive and receiving a message from Russia that it wouldn’t. B/W footage of Nikita Khrushchev. B/W photographs of self-destruct mechanism and poison needle from Power’s U-2 with narration.
Footage of CIA spokesperson delivering prepared cover story about U-2 disappearance. ZI B/W photograph of Andrei Gromyko, narrator tells of his response to CIA cover story. B/W photo of Khrushchev with narration.
B/W footage of President Dwight Eisenhower defending the spy mission and journalists taking notes. Eisenhower addresses the Open Skies proposal.
B/W EXT WS of the United Nations building. Russian spokesperson addressing U.N. and photo of Khrushchev giving victory salute.
B/W b-roll of Moscow U-2 exhibition. B/W shots of TV interviews in NYC. B/W shots of Khrushchev examining the U-2 wreckage. ZI B/W photograph of Powers in Moscow looking at the wreckage inc. audio of Powers saying his spy mission was punishable by death.
MS ZI to MCU interview with Powers discussing solitary his confinement.
B/W footage of President Eisenhower at the Paris Summit and footage of Khrushchev swinging an axe in public.
B/W MS photo of Powers after being captured. MCU interview with Powers talking about his interrogation. B/W shots of Power’s trial in Moscow. Still of Powers with his parents at the trial. VO of Powers talking about how the trial was a “showcase trial”.
CU ZI to MCU of Powers reciting his plea. MCU interview shot of Powers saying he was sentenced to 10 years. B/W photo of his parents at the trial.
B-roll POV of boat bow. CU interview with Nilsen saying the Russian’s placed a bomb in Power’s U-2 (English dub). FS of Nilsen seated in his kitchen with narration.
B/W photo of Powers in Russia with narrator describing Powers’ reduced sentence. B/W CU footage of Powers after his release.
CU interview of Powers saying the CIA thought he was a double agent. B/W newspaper headline saying Powers should have killed himself.
B/W footage of Powers at a Congressional hearing with narrator posing a line of rhetorical questioning. B/W shots of Powers holding a model of U-2. B/W MS of Powers telling reporters he followed instructions. B/W footage of Powers at a welcoming home event. B/W WS of Powers riding a minibike. B/W photograph of Powers with Kelly Johnson and a U-2. MS of Powers smiling in an orange flight suit next to a U-2.
B-roll FS of reindeers ZO to WS of Nielsen smoking in a field. B-roll of helicopter footage landing in a fjord, soldiers jumping out and one pointing.
MCU ZO MFS interview with Nilsen saying the Norwegian soldiers thought he was a “drunk” and “without the intelligence to be a spy” (English dub). MS of Nison smoking, looking out over a fjord. Narrator tells us that Nilson was finally caught for spying. Panning shot of fjord.
Shots of Powers moving a single-prop plane branded “KGILradio”. WS of Lockheed hangar. CU and WS of Powers taking off in single-prop plane with inc. audio of Powers saying the CIA tried to prevent him from writing a book. Various shots of Power’s plane taking off, aerial views of L.A. and MS of Powers piloting the plane inc. audio of Powers saying why he wrote the book. - INT shots of Powers flying inc. audio of Powers talking about losing his job at Lockheed after writing his book and not being able to find a another job since.
WS b-roll of a bird flying in fjord. CU profile shot of Nilson ZI to MFS of Nilson sitting in long grass. Audio of him expressing anguish at the time of being a spy. B/W WS b-roll of Nielsen loaded onto a plane on a stretcher.
Editorial cartoons of Powers and headline. CU of poster for book event with Powers. Shots of Powers at after dinner speech with cutaways of audience inc. narration.
WS of Nielsen walking along the shore with shots of the wrecked boat Nielsen took to Russia. Shots of a deserted house and MS of Nilson in a row boat.
MS and CU shots of Powers holding a medal he received from the CIA inc. audio of him reading its inscription.
B-roll CU to WS shot of U-2 taxiing away from the camera.
End of shotlist
Counterpoint: The U-2 Story
The 1960 U-2 incident, told through the story of spies on different sides of the Iron Curtain. Mixed media collection relating to peter Davis’ film.