Director: Christopher Nolan | Script: Christopher Nolan | Cast: Cillian Murphy (J. Robert Oppenheimer), Emily Blunt (Kitty Oppenheimer), Matt Damon (Leslie Groves), Robert Downey Jr. (Lewis Strauss), Jason Clarke (Roger Robb), Alden Ehrenreich (senaatsmedewerker), Kenneth Branagh (Niels Bohr), Josh Hartnett (Ernest Lawrence), Florence Pugh (Jean Tatlock), and to | Time to play: 180 minutes | Year: 2023
“Now I become Death, destroyer of worlds.” This is what the American physicist Julius Robert Oppenheimer murmurs after the successful test with the atomic bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Not long after, the world was shocked by the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It caused 200,000 direct and indirect deaths and heralded the end of World War II.
The life and work of J. Robert Oppenheimer is the subject and subject of Christopher Nolan’s twelfth feature film. be true Principle putting all your neurons to work because of the almost inimitable plot and juggling timelines, the same can be said for this three-hour but satisfying attrition war. Just to temper expectations immediately: oppenheimer it’s dialogue-driven, killer-paced, and an almost endless array of characters played by top-notch actors.
We meet Oppenheimer who, as a young student at Cambridge, is inspired by colleagues like Albert Einstein and Niel Bohr. It soon turns out that the young scientist is more apt for theory than practice. He is developing in quantum mechanics, at that time still an unexplored branch of physics. Parallel to this, we see the fire of questions being fired at an older Oppenheimer because the FBI has been tipped off. The physicist is accused of communist sentiment and poses a threat to national security due to his extreme views.
A third story, filmed in black and white, revolves around a former soldier and headmaster of the renowned Princeton University. A Robert Downey Jr. hard to spot. he shapes Lewis Strauss who recruits Oppenheimer after the war. Before a Senate committee, Strauss must prove his eligibility as Secretary of Commerce in President Eisenhower’s cabinet.
Only in the last hour does it become clear how these things relate to each other. Some knowledge of the McCarthy era and his quest for communism is not a superfluous luxury. Nolan gives little to no context and focuses entirely on his characters. Oppenheimer and his immediate colleagues have the optimistic but naive attitude that wars will be a thing of the past with the detonation of the atomic bomb. In reality, the theoretical physicist created a monster and opened the door to the Cold War.
oppenheimer it’s a long session where you constantly have to keep your head up. That’s by no means a punishment due to cleverly thought out writing, but Nolan feeds us so much that this just warrants a second viewing. Truly masterful is the construction of the aforementioned test under the name of Trinidad. We all know the direction the experiment took in world history.
Nolan builds it in such a way that it feels like we’re noticing it for the first time. Not surprisingly, the director opens with a textual reference to Greek mythology. Prometheus stole fire from the gods and was chained to the rocks as punishment, where an eagle pecked his liver daily. This parallel is quoted multiple times, it seems a bit pompous, but it makes sense, if only because it connects to the book American Prometheus that Nolan based his movie on.
Oppenheimer felt exactly like the mythical hero after realizing what he had done. After the war, he wanted to stop development of the hydrogen bomb, the successor to the original atomic bomb. The atomic bomb is often attributed to Einstein, but it was Oppenheimer who developed the missile. He took three years, four thousand employees, and the current equivalent of thirty-four billion dollars. War President Truman (a wacky bit player played by Gary Oldman) called it the greatest experiment in science.
Nolan is backed by a host of big names, with lead actors Cillian Murphy and Downey Jr. not only getting the most screen time, but also making the biggest impression despite sharing few scenes. The only thing you can blame Nolan for is that he drains so many impressions on us that emotions often lose. So it’s a sad fact that female characters and their problems, like Oppenheimer’s wife Kitty, have been left out. Her relationship with her husband, children, and the bottle are touched upon but not fully explored.
oppenheimer it is shown in some theaters on 70mm film and was shot with IMAX cameras by our very own Hoyte van Hoytema. The desolate desert of New Mexico, where the cradle of a new world order was located, has rarely been portrayed with such beauty.
This is a near-perfect blend of actor’s drama and political thriller, reminiscent of Oliver Stone’s best days. Nolan’s twelfth requires significant investment, constant attention, and firm meat to sit on. It is impossible to understand everything in detail. It’s three movies in one, with three hours almost too short.