Oppenheimer, an epic thriller, written and directed by Christopher Nolan

On Thursday 20th July, Christopher Nolan’s latest film was released and we went to watch it at Cine Yelmo Ideal.

This fascinating and moving thriller, that was filmed on IMAX 65 mm, transported us to the frenetic paradox of J. Robert Oppenheimer. An enigmatic man who was a great scientist and a controversial figure as he led a scientific project that ended with the launching of the atomic bomb in 1945.

The film counts on Cillian Murphy in the role of J. Robert Oppenheimer and on Emily Blunt who plays his wife, the biologist and botanist Katherine OppenheimerMatt Damon joins them, as General Leslie Groves Jr., the director of the Manhattan Project, as does Robert Downey, Jr. whose performance playing Lewis Strauss, one of the founder members of the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), deserves a slow clap.

In the cast, Oscar nominee Florence Pugh also stands out as the psychiatrist Jean Tatlock, who as well as being Oppenheimer’s lover, was one of the first women to break ground in this field in the US. Jean joined the Communist Party during her college years and her convictions led her to fight against racial discrimination, the defense of workers’ rights and even to protest against her country’s participation in World War II. They say she was Oppie’s first love, as he was known at university. Another remarkable actor is Josh Hartnett who plays Ernest Lawrence, the pioneer nuclear scientist known above all for the invention, use and improvement of the cyclotron and for his later work on the uranium-isotope separation in the Manhattan Project; also Casey Affleck who plays Boris Pash, head of the military counter-intelligence at the Presidio de San Francisco; Oscar winner Rami Malek who plays David Hill, an associated experimental nuclear physicist who helped J. Robert Oppenheimer; or Kenneth Branagh, an eight times Oscar nominee who plays the physicistNiels Bohr, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922.

“The film is based on the Pulitzer prize book: American Prometheus.”


Nolan’s film explores the depths of the psyche of the brilliant scientist responsible for the atomic bomb, who represented the totality of human inventiveness and who has signified a turning point for civilization, threatening the future of humankind with his mere existence.

Who was Oppenheimer?

Robert Oppenheimer was a renowned theoretical physicist and one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. Born on 22nd April 1904 in New Your (US), his life and career were marked by his contributions to the development of the atomic bomb and his role in World War II.

“J. Robert Oppenheimer is the father of the atomic bomb, the most destructive invention in the world.”

Julius Robert Oppenheimer was the son of German Jewish immigrants and graduated summa cum laudae at Harvard University after three years of studies and then studied Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University and Göttingen University (Germany), where he obtained his PhD at the age of twenty-three.

After the U.S. joined the Allied Forces in 1941, Oppenheimer was summoned to participate in the “Secret Manhattan Project “, the aim of which was to develop an atomic weapon. In 1942, the U.S. army called Oppenheimer to be the head of a secret laboratory at Los Álamos where the bomb would be tested…

“Oppenheimer was both responsible for the Manhattan Project and the most fervent pacifist against the other bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and also against nuclear war itself.”

Although initially the bomb was directed against Nazi Germany, there was a twist in history. Following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on the 6th and 9th August 1945, Truman –the U.S. president at the time- gave the order to launch two of the bombs that Oppenheimer had helped develop over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing over 200,000 people and causing unparalleled devastation.

Following that massacre, both he and his scientist peers assured that they were horrified by the loss of civilian lives and they were worried that, in the future, this type of weapons would be used to promote wars instead of to dissuade their occurrence. Additionally, Oppenheimer, the son of a German-born Jewish immigrants, regretted that the bomb had not been finished in time to be used against the Nazis.

“The safety of this nation (…) can only be based on making future wars impossible.” J. Robert Oppenheimer

Also, and in spite of having been its creator… Oppenheimer suffered depression over time. They say he was devastated at the terrible power of his creation. For that reason, he spent a great part of his life after the war pushing for nuclear dissuasion, and openly opposed the attempts by the U.S. to develop a more powerful hydrogen bomb. He also founded the World Academy of Art and Science  and gave lectures on science and ethics until his death in 1967.

“Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Bhagavad Gita

A winning film, where all aspects are considered in an extraordinary way

As is the case in all Nolan films, details are key to lifting the end result to great heights. That’s why, on this occasion, he has left the excellent and moving soundtrack in the hands of Ludwig Göransson; the hyper naturalist photography to Hoyte van Hoytema and the editing to Jennifer Lame, managing to produce a magnetic and exciting film that lasts three hours.

Without wanting to reveal much more, we recommend you go and watch it on the big screen.

(*) Images provided by UPI Media.