Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer is about to cross the billion-dollar mark upon its re-release, and all of Hollywood is watching, stunned.
Three-hour, R-rated, biopics are not supposed to be the bog of a hit, but here we are, watching the money roll in.
Oppenheimer has become a movie everyone is talking about with awards season rolling in. With popularity at the box office bolstering it, it may have been a hit that Hollywood needed.
Not only is it an original film from an auteur director, but it is a serious movie that is in line to win multiple Academy Awards. It, along with Barbie, seems to have revived cinema.
Oppenheimer | New Trailer
Nolan on the Success of ‘Oppenheimer’
It wasn’t just Hollywood surprised by Oppenheimer, but Nolan himself was reportedly stunned by the box office. He told Variety, “With certain films, your timing is just right in ways that you never could have predicted. When you start making a film, you’re two or three years out from when it’s going to be released, so you’re trying to hit a moving target as far as the interest of the audience. But sometimes you catch a wave and the story you’re telling is one people are waiting for.”
Of course, with all this attention can come controversy. Oppenheimer has a script that was written in the first person and tells the singular story of what Oppenheimer experienced while making the atomic bomb.
Nolan Always Intended to Write ‘Oppenheimer’ in First Person Point of View
Many were upset that the film did not fully depict the results of dropping that bomb, even if it did have a sequence where the character of Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) saw charred bodies.
“The film presents Oppenheimer’s experience subjectively,” Nolan said. “It was always my intention to rigidly stick to that. Oppenheimer heard about the bombing at the same time that the rest of the world did. I wanted to show somebody who is starting to gain a clearer picture of the unintended consequences of his actions. It was as much about what I don’t show as what I show.”
Many people have been waiting for Nolan to directly address this since the film came out. I think this is a pretty good answer as to why those scenes are not in the movie.
Obviously, film is a subjective medium, so your own experience matters. But knowing that Nolan had artistic and storytelling intentions behind it should matter.
Nolan on Fiction Over Historical Accuracy
When it comes to the real-life Oppenheimer worrying about creating the bomb, people are split. While it seems he had some regret, he never said anything publicly to that effect.
According to Nolan, “My research and my engagement with this story tell me that anyone claiming a simple answer is in denial of a lot of the facts,” he said. “Obviously, it would be much better for the world if it hadn’t happened. But so much of the attitude toward the bombing depends on the situation of the individual answering the question. When you speak to people whose relatives were fighting in the Pacific, you get one answer. When you look at the devastating impact in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you get another.”
At the end of the day, Nolan described the movie as an attempt to reconcile his feelings with the creation of the bomb. “The film is an honest attempt to express my feelings about it.”
I think we can all agree that great films purposefully dissect these emotions and ask the audience to make judgment calls themselves.
Let me know what you think about all of this in the comments.
Portions of this article were sourced from Variety.