Christopher Nolan strikes again in a fantastically scripted and produced movie
Critically acclaimed producer and director Christopher Nolan blew it out of the water with his latest film, “Oppenheimer,” released this Friday. Centered around the father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), this movie recounts the theoretical physicist’s tumultuous life and his role in the Manhattan Project.
Nolan had a great task at hand: condensing Oppenheimer's eventful life into just three hours. Before leading the top-secret Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer was an ambitious young scientist and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology. The film touches on his ties to communism and fervent communist Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh), with whom he had an affair. After World War II ended, The US government viciously deposed Oppenheimer for his past affiliations with the Communist Party while also facing the guilt of designing the weapon with the capacity to end mankind. Oppenheimer’s story is turbulent and intriguing and it is truly amazing to catch a glimpse into one of the world's greatest minds.
Oppenheimer’s affair, depositions and the hearings of Lewis Strauss (Robert Downie Jr.) are all extensive and important storylines throughout the movie, not to mention the Manhattan project. In this regard, Nolan may have bitten off a little more than he could chew, as characters within these plot points aren’t fully fleshed out. David Hill (Rami Malek) only has a minor role in the film, until he curiously turns up during an important scene and steals the show. It is never explicitly explained who he is or where he came from. Even Strauss, the main antagonist of the film, felt like he was lacking development.
Nolan structured the plot in a unique fashion, revealing fragments of Oppenheimer’s life during different periods of the movie. Like a jigsaw puzzle, the film revisits vague or unfinished scenes to add context or that missing piece to allow the audience to understand the full picture. To highlight this film technique, the words ‘fission’ and ‘fusion’ can be seen in the opening scene, meaning a division into parts and the joining of things to form a single entity.
In Nolan's previous works, cinematography has always been a strong suit. Films like “Interstellar” and “Inception” include breathtaking shots and electrifying scenes. In “Oppenheimer,” various scenes utilize close-ups of Oppenheimer’s facial expressions to portray his immense feelings of guilt and remorse.
In addition, Nolan prefers to capture scenes without the use of CGI. In the 2020 movie “Tenet,” Nolan blew up a real Boeing 747 and opted to go a similar route for the Trinity test in “Oppenheimer” (the first atomic bomb test in Los Alamos). Although the specific details of how Nolan captured the Trinity test scene remain a mystery, Nolan confirmed the crew used camera trickery and smaller explosions to recreate the detonations of an atomic bomb. The sheer dedication to making every scene as real as possible isn’t without return, it does astound you.
Composer Ludwig Göransson delivered a remarkable score that amplified the emotions of every scene. In the more suspenseful moments, the music was deafeningly intense. Unfortunately, in many instances, the music masked the actors' lines, which made it harder to follow the face-paced and elaborate plot.
However, “Oppenheimer” is definitely worth your time and money to see. The minor flaws barely take away from the film. The plot is engaging and the science is fascinating. Cillian Murphy put in an Oscar-worthy performance that was incredible to watch. If you are interested in a thought-provoking movie that goes beyond your typical war movie, I highly recommend “Oppenheimer.”
“Oppenheimer” is rated R for sexuality, nudity, and language. It was released on July 21 and is now playing in theaters, including Regal Majestic Stadium 20 & IMAX, AMC Wheaton Mall 9 and AMC Montgomery 16.
Caleb Elazar. Hey I'm Caleb, I'm on writing staff and I like playing soccer, listening to music and spending time with my friends and family. More »