Cillian Murphy led the show in Christopher Nolan’s historic drama, Oppenheimer. Read on for our verdict on the cinematic marvel!
Oppenheimer is a historical thriller based on a real life story of “the father of atomic bomb”, J. Robert Oppenheimer. The movie essays the late scientist’s physicist as an esteemed scientist to the controversy that enveloped him as the creator of the atomic bomb. It is based on his biography – chronicles of the creation of the atomic bomb.
The Peaky Blinders favorite Cillian Murphy is the lead along with a star studded cast including Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr, Matt Damon and Florence Pugh. It is directed by famous, five-time Oscar nominated film maker, Christopher Nolan who is venturing into a new genre of biopics with his new release.
Direction & Screenplay By Christopher Nolan
The movie about the Atmoic Scientist is based on the 2005 book “American Prometheus” by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. The direction and screenplay is the work of none other than Christopher Nolan, who has previously given us hits like: Inception, Dunkirk and The Dark Knight. Nolan combines his impeccable visual command with a character deeply embedded in human history in a historical drama entwined with the inner complex universe of the man who was known as the father of the nuclear atomic bomb. What makes it ingenuously more interesting is how the movie is purposely not laid out in a chronological order, makes one curious enough as though attempting to figure out an adult puzzle. Each scene grabs your attention all over again and leaves you lingering on for the next. The narrative is wonderfully shot without making it too gory, too disturbing while making sure to not even hint at being ordinary.
The Star Studded Critically Acclaimed Cast!
The story stars the real life participants in the Manhattan project and Oppenheimer’s life, including: Robert Downey, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, David Krumholtz, Matthew Modine, David Dastmalchian, Jack Quaid, Dane DeHaan, Jason Clarke, James D’Arcy, Tony Goldwyn, Alex Wolff, and Kenneth Branagh.
An Eerie Opener
An eerie beginning pivots into Dr. Robert J Oppenheimer’s troubled mind during the hearings for his security clearance. The movie shuttles between part black and white and part colour – the director being Christopher Nolan of course, very intelligently used imagery to depict the real vs what went on Oppenheimer and Strauss’s minds with a rich foray into the American political landscape during World War 2.
The movie goes back in time as Oppenheimer faces the security clearance hearing picking at every aspect of his life during and prior to his involvement in the development of the Manhattan project. Side by side, there is another hearing in the senate focusing on Robert Downey as Lewis Strauss.
Performances With An Impact
We see Robert Downey as Admiral Strauss in his potentially most (latest) classic role. Robert Downey is unrecognisable as the palpable Lewis Strauss, former head of the US Atomic Energy Commission. His character might surprise you the most. He is a cagey power playing DC politician who might have a lot to do with being the deciding factor in Oppenheimer’s fate.
Cillian Murphy was seriously, awfully amazing as Robert J. Oppenheimer, he had us engrossed through his every emotion, the nuances, his icy blue eyes which had been put to brilliant use helping him depict the charm, madness and complexity of the father of the atomic bomb and the moral dilemmas he would later on face. He switched seamlessly between the troubled scientist, passionate professor and theoretical physicist, teaching what no one could fathom. His passion when lighting up when teaching Quantum Physics makes one want to be a part of the late scientist’s class.
Matt Damon as Lt Gen Leslie Groves is a tough soldier, heading the Manhattan project, he is blunt, bullish and a stickler for rules – almost Oppenheimer’s partner in crime.
Florence Pugh, the flame to his fire was Oppenheimer’s emotionally volatile girlfriend, Jean Tatloc with whom he was in an eccentric, tumultuous relationship. Pugh is notably, regarded as the most talented actresses of her generation but while her dialogues were impactful we wonder if she was under utilised.
It would be pertinent to mention here that the version of the film released in Pakistan and most Middle Easter countries including UAE was censored for mature scenes. Hence, Pugh’s impact might have been diluted too.
Emily Blunt as Kitty, Oppenheimer’s wife is a biologist and the mother of his 2 children. Kitty prefers being perpetually drunk, is a force of her own and successful at pep talking her husband. She is capable of deadly glares and fierce opinions and is able to hold herself much more ferociously than her husband before a loaded hostile legal team.
Highlights Of The Storyline
Robert J. Oppenheimer is a young boy who heads to Cambridge from America in pursuit of a much more radical approach towards Physics. His brilliance and pursuit of the unfathomable led him to be troubled by visions of a hidden universe. Unable to sleep and useless in the lab, he seeks his true calling, somewhere he will be free to think, to break the bounds of the physics the world knows. His character uses Quantum Physics to understand the reality around him, but will he end up being condemned due to his left wing political activities, his life choices, his relations and achievements? He passionately, further enraptures us with an answer to many of our conundrums, one in particular “what happens to stars when they die”
His mind is one of an inexplicable genius, knotted and woven with science, math and music, his madness and complexity driving into the mystic world of his thoughts and Quantum Physics. He is subduedly charismatic yet chilly. A contradictory man who wants to build a bomb yet also unionise the radiation lab.
It is much later that his opinions on atom and nuclear energy became definitive following the price he had to pay for seeing beyond the world.
Murphy Led The Show
Murphy’s brilliance carries the movie at a steady pace, everything and everyone else follows suit, showcasing his journey in creating the team of the bright minds who will be part of the first atom bomb in history. With an integral brutal lesson in history about those who need you until they don’t, no matter how powerful you may be once upon a time.
Power Politics With Plenty Physics
Downey comes to life much later in the 2nd half of the movie with his power politics. While narrating Oppenheimer’s passion for physics and being a man who gave the leaders the power to destroy, a theorist full of imaginations, you will get a chance to watch power politics play with plenty physics if that’s your jam. And in case you are wondering, the second half builds on the apprehension and picks pace.
Though Missed Out On The Japanese Side Of The Story
You could almost feel the fear, the waiting, the intensity. Cillian along with the rest of the cast ensure to truly and deeply immerse you in the story. Though many rightfully point out the depiction from history is one sided definitely missing the Japanese perspective and history.
Hard Hitting, Morbid Yet Integral Scenes
Dialogues and imagery were particularly poignant and morbid at the same time. “Now I have become death, destroyer of the worlds” the intensity with which Cillian Murphy emoted each of his heavy armed dialogues with was a transcending experience. You are forced to imagine his story!
Some scenes are hard hitting, undefinably morbid yet integral to the story, to the journey of Oppenheimer. There’s one such scene which is a complex contradiction; what he is saying is something else but what he is thinking, feeling, seeing and imagining is something else entirely. Instead of feeling victorious in his success, revelling in the cheer, he feels something unsettling and is forced by his burgeoning conscience to think about the burnt, dead, charred corpses that were a direct result of his achievement. The greatest scientific gamble worked but he continued to be ill at ease at letting go of what he had contributed to, and the fear of unleashing another nuclear war kept weighing down on him. The scene was, in essence, testament to the brilliant mind of Christopher Nolan who could evoke a sense of guilt, horror, a sickening kind of, gut wrenching realization amidst all the celebration – true genius indeed!
The movie further essays Oppenheimer’s fight to get nuclear controls in place, to somehow contain the “chain reaction” that had set off in the real world of power, politics and future wars.
The tearing apart of his life, the bogus charges and claims, the closed hearings were gruelling to the extent that it weakened the man who was in charge of the most powerful weapon in the world. And all because he had exhibited a sense of regret, guilt and perhaps, remorse, at the power of what he had unleashed. There is no place for compassion in nuclear warfare and his prosecutors wanted to make sure he never stepped inside a science lab again, to infiltrate brilliant young physicists and corrupt their brilliance with feelings of human-ness.
Cillain and the film brought all that together in a chilling manner – a soldier cannot have second thoughts. And, how the fine line between a scientist and politics is blurred once your brain is borrowed by the state to aid and progress its Defence Program.
A Lasting Impression With Albert Einstein
The founder of the Theory of Gravity Albert Einstein is also portrayed in the movie, how he held an integral position as someone who Oppenheimer often sought out for advice, yet, someone who had no direct involvement in the Manhattan Project. The movie offered a peek into how decisive Einstein was, as opposed to Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer was just as flawed as any other human being. Divided between his passion for radical science and the moral dilemma about the repercussions, Christopher Nolan’s depiction has led the way for the resurgence of the debate about nuclear arms, the world’s POV and where we stand on the atrocities of the past.
As Dr, Robert J Oppenheimer utters in final sentence that: while he successfully contained a chain reaction for the nuclear bombs he might have began the chain reaction globally for trading arms and unleashing mankind’s appetite for future annihilation.
Verdict On Nolan’s Latest
P.S. You might need to brush up on your history, otherwise there is a possibility you won’t be able to keep up with the pace.
We were particularly waiting in the end to witness the blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the aftermath on the other side, Truman’s historical address – all of which would have created a bigger impact, but that was not to be.
Oppenheimer is a very intelligent watch in terms of the nuances, analogies, imageries and dialogues. It’s possible one might also need to rewatch the film to catch the complex narrative and to understand the charisma, the flawed human-ness of the father of the atomic bomb (as is the case with most of Nolan’s movies) to fully unravel the marvel. The film is a classic masterpiece with one of the most important, most drastic events and people in history!
With Europe moving to weaponize further under the present state of affairs, Ukraine and Russia in a state of war and at a stalemate in negotiations, one wonders if Oppenheimer could have been more timely in its release. The movie is not about a super hero, a fictional event or a larger than life human being. It is about a brilliant scientist, a man who loved Physics and who had hoped his invention would bring an end to all war and ensure world peace. It is about real life events and a man who succeeded and yet, felt he might not have fully grasped the impact his success would have in the real world.
Oppenheimer is a genius watch. Go get your ticket if you’re one who wants to understand the universe and why ordinary people do extraordinary things whose end result they cannot control. But perhaps, we can. If you want to be part of the debate that will rule the world for years to come – go watch.
Here’s the trailer to prepare yourself to be immersed in Christopher Nolan’s marvel!