Movie of the Month: Oppenheimer
*Oppenheimer is rated R for brief scenes of sexual encounters, but it does not take away from the historical message that it sends. For minors, supervised watching is advised.
“I have become death, the destroyer of worlds,” is a phrase best used to describe the incredible power that Robert J. Oppenheimer had unleashed upon the world.
Christopher Nolan’s recent film, a biopic on the theoretical physicist’s life called Oppenheimer, explores the trials and tribulations that Oppenheimer had gone through. Packed into just three hours are emotions of triumph, scandal, regret, and ultimate betrayal.
The first half follows Oppenheimer through his pursuit of knowledge within the world of theoretical physics, finding himself in the universities of Cambridge and Göttingen. As Oppenheimer had gained significance in his field, he was recruited by General Leslie Groves to head the notorious “Manhattan Project,” in which the first atomic bomb was to be used and tested. The scenes within this half of the movie are shot with color, representing Oppenheimer’s point of view, and are called “fission.
The Los Alamos laboratory, a remote area within the state of New Mexico, was chosen as the perfect test site for the project. Here, the building process for the atomic bomb truly ramps up, as well as scandal within the Oppenheimer’s family and Manhattan Project team at Los Alamos. The climax of the film is shown with the detonation of the atomic bomb, and Christopher Nolan’s impressive non-CGI explosion, coupled with Ludwig Goransson’s eerily beautiful score propel the downfall of Oppenheimer’s reputation.
The second half of the movie is shot mostly in black and white, focusing on a third person view on Oppenheimer. These scenes are called “fusion,” and focus on the attempts of government officials to determine whether Oppenheimer had been a spy for the communists, removing his security clearance and therefore his ability to work for the US government. The basis for the removal of his clearance was due to the affair he had with communist Jean Tatlock.
I was truly blown away by the detail this film had gone into exploring the life of Oppenheimer. Christopher Nolan gave emotions of suspense and anticipation for events that are already set in stone, since they were based on a true story. Not many biographies can pull off a feat like that.
However, this movie is not for everyone. There is lots of talking and it could be repetitive and boring for the casual viewer, but for history buffs, this movie is perfect. The music of the movie really ties it all together in the end, leaving the question of what could really happen if a nuclear war broke out.