During World War II, Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves Jr. appoints physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to work on the top-secret Manhattan Project. Oppenheimer and a team of scientists spend years developing and designing the atomic bomb. Their work comes to fruition on July 16, 1945, as they witness the world’s first nuclear explosion, forever changing the course of history.
If you lived through the post-atomic age up to the Cuban Missile Crisis and have memories of duck and cover, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, a biography of the father of the atomic bomb, will be a harsh and uncomfortable yet brilliant achievement. The non-boomers will see it as a work of fiction. “I couldn’t believe it. The only way I. could deal with it, was to treat it as fictive,” my wife told me afterwards, creating a new word that was both fission and fusion. The atom was split with the audience, leaving fall-out spreading on what everyone had just seen.
Nolan wisely knows that only one bomb going off would be enough. The five minute sequence that leads to the Los Alamos bomb is treated as an action movie tragedy. You know it will go off, the world will change and we will all know and live in the tragic fallout. I cried the entire time and lived with the doom feeling for the rest of the movie.
Oppenheimer shows the sadness and joy that comes with living ones ultimate dreams. Nolan shows that in detail and after when he realizes that “I am destroyer of worlds.”
The story twists and shapes like vines around a mushroom cloud, a double helix DNA strand that exposes the terrible structures and destructive power of human nature.
Cilian Murphy plays Oppenheimer with the feverish intensity his character deserves. He is trying to brace himself for the coming atomic winds and trying to stand erect with his dignity intact when the winds of McCarthyism and petty professional envy and revenge try to knock him over.
Think of the explosions radiating out from the center in Picasso Guernica and you will get a sense of the cinematic cubism Nolan is attempting here. It even has a color period and black and white one. It folds cinematic space and time into its own space-time. As Oppenheimer comes into focus so does the world. The decision to use IMAX cameras only heightens the immensity of what Nolan has done . The details need to be written large. It’s that important. Like Quantum physics it can be both vista and mirror.
Oppenheimer gets a 4.5 out of 5 or an A.
- Cillian Murphy
- Emily Blunt
- Matt Damon
- Robert Downey Jr.
- Florence Pugh
- Josh Hartnett
- Casey Affleck
- Rami Malek
- Kenneth Branagh
- July 11, 2023 (Le Grand Rex)
- July 21, 2023(United States and United Kingdom)
- United States
- United Kingdom