‘Oppenheimer’: Trials and Tribulations of the Father of the Atomic Bomb


Few filmmakers have the influence of Christopher Nolan. To carry more than a dozen films, The Londoner has been able to leave his mark in science fiction cinema, in superheroes, in the historical. It is precisely to the latter that he returns with ‘Oppenheimer‘, his ambitious review of the figure of the theoretical physicist considered the “father” of the atomic bomb, and of everything that happened afterwards. And as always with Nolan’s cinema, this is not just any biopic or historical film. We are facing something else.

Nolan’s ambition is unleashed in full force in this three-hour film centered on J. Robert Oppenheimer. The base is ‘American Prometheus’, a book written by Martin J. Sherwin and Kai Bird, winner of the Pulitzer Prize. The story does not stay alone in the Manhattan Project, but continues with the “non-trial” to which the scientist was subjected some time later, arguing to review his security credentials, with the clear intention of discrediting him. It was the time of the Cold War, of witch hunts, of McCarthyism, of the persecution of communist ideas.


Christopher Nolan’s script does not follow a linear sequence of events, but rather leaps from Oppenheimer’s student years to this scrutiny, threading themes and building moral dilemmas. The film, like all of the filmmaker’s, does not pretend to be a simple recreation, but rather wants us to think about many issues during and especially after seeing it.

Nolan gets more wet than ever in this script in which he talks about the consequences of the arms race, both military and humanitarian as well as scientific, of communism as an indeterminate enemy, of unionism facing the most American capitalism, of the weight of intelligence and of the price of the ego His film asks us difficult questions with all the pretense that has always characterized him, but It comes out tremendously graceful thanks to making us participate first-hand and as close as possible to one of the most important events in modern history..

Because there is still the key to the success of Nolan’s cinema. ‘Oppenheimer’ is a manual historical and political film, which relies heavily on (many) dialogues almost traced to what really happened, but it also has spectacularity triggered. Few biographical films have a scale like thiswhere every set feels real and every aspect of the production design shines, from costumes to props.


It also manages to keep up the pace well, and we’re talking about a three-hour movie. Jennifer Lame, in charge of editing, bets on accelerate with agile and frenetic cuts in even the most nondescript conversations. Editing evolves with the tone of the film, which doesn’t stagnate beyond a couple of off-peak moments. What begins as something similar to ‘A Beautiful Mind’, leaves the conventional and goes to a trial against the clock with the development of the Manhattan Project that comes to leave the edge of the seat despite the fact that we know, obviously, what is going to happen. pass. The Oppenheimer trial drowns us in a claustrophobic atmosphere and the film’s closing hits in such a way that perhaps a few minutes are necessary before starting the post-film debate.

I want to highlight all the use of sound. The spectacular soundtrack by Ludwig Göransson is complemented by a magnificent management of noise and, above all, of silence, to stir emotions and turn certain scenes into the most impressive moments of the film. The visual section, as expected, is very careful, starting with the wonderful photography of Hoyte van Hoytema using the IMAX to create immersive wide shots and deeply intimate close-ups.


How he uses black and white to separate us from Oppenheimer’s point of view, how the re-enactment of the bomb actually feels “practical”… Nolan may be running huge budgets, but he knows how to make every penny count on screen.. ‘Oppenheimer’ is an expensive biopic that feels fabulously expensive.

Behind their backs

Cillian Murphy also deserves a round of applause for taking a movie like this behind his back. The director rewards the fidelity of the Irish actor by giving him a character candy that Murphy squeezes to get all the juice out of it. “Oppie” is not the cliché of an awkward introverted scientist, although a little too. He is an intellectual, a bon vivant and a womanizer. Cillian Murphy builds that complex personality and knows how to play very well with the gray scale, just like the script, so that the cards are not turned around despite having opted for such a close point of view. He’s on Oscar, and he’s not the only one.


Around Murphy we find a show cast with huge names, like Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr. or Florence Pugh. They all know that his place is to support the protagonist, they let him shine and give him powerful counterparts without wanting to steal the scene. And yet Nolan knows how to give just about everyone a moment to show off.. Blunt and Pugh, who have the role of having the only leading female characters in the entire film, defend them with claw, with two women who could have their own movie.

But it is Robert Downey Jr. who takes the opportunity to prove once again that he is one of the best actors of his generation thanks to this cryptic and passionate Lewis Strauss, a worthy antagonist and one of his best performances in a long time.

‘Oppenheimer’ is a difficult film, but totally exhilarating. Christopher Nolan’s arrogance once again plays in his favor to give us a film that is brainy but epic, political, brave, terrifying but inspiring, faithful to reality but not constraining, classic but auroral, long but hectic. How few filmmakers are there who are capable of doing so much with the story of one man. But Oppenheimer wasn’t just any man, and neither is Nolan.

‘Oppenheimer’ premieres In theaters Thursday, July 20.


The best: Oscar’s Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr. and Emily Blunt. The use of sound and music. Production design and photography. The dilemmas it raises.

Worst: The duration is quite noticeable in a couple of moments, although later he knows how to come back.

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