Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

Informing the  Berea and Baldwin Wallace University Communities Since 1913

The Exponent

“Oppenheimer” blows away audiences in a one of Nolan’s best

“Oppenheimer” stands out as more than just about a bomb, as both the interwoven storylines and performances will blow you away.

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” may have received much buzz from its simultaneous release with Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” yet still, while the Barbenheimer narrative was capturing audiences’ attention, Nolan was busy weaving a multitude of narratives of his own. At first glance, the story of “Oppenheimer” appears to be a simple biopic of the man who created the atomic bomb, but there is much more to the story than this. 

Nolan divides the movie into two parts titled “fission” and “fusion,” respectively. “Fission” follows J. Robert Oppenheimer’s perspective, acted by Cillian Murphy and “fusion” follows a former member of the Atomic Energy Commission, Lewis Strauss’ perspective, played by Robert Downey Jr. 

Each of their perspectives in the film are independent retellings of their lives, the perspective of Stauss being depicted in black and white to differentiate from Oppenheimer’s. This concept may sound confusing, and at first it was, but in “Oppenheimer,” Nolan uses it as a tool to construct the narrative to show their roles in each other’s lives. Once the movie establishes this concept it is easier for viewers to understand how the plot continues to unfold. 

In addition to this, Nolan crafts an interesting story telling structure throughout the film by showing Oppenheimer’s life from two different points. The film parallels the chronological timeline of Oppenheimer’s life with the timeline of him being on trial for communism. At first it seemed a bit hectic, but it slowly became a brilliant way to have narration with directly employing a narrator. 

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While the movie’s structure was a clear highlight of the film, the acting also proved to make “Oppenheimer” the masterpiece that it was. Downey consistently elevates every scene with his performance as Strauss despite playing a less recognizable figure, and he brings with him gravitas and excellent timing. “Oppenheimer” is evidently one of his greatest performances.  

Murphy also delivers an excellent performance as the titular character, often tasked with displaying the complex thoughts and feelings within Oppenheimer through just subtle changes in his facial expressions.  

While award-winning actors played the main characters, talent was not lacking in the supporting cast, as they were played by other A-listers such as Florence Pugh, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Rami Malek and more. Although they had a smaller part, they all made the most of the screentime they were given. 

Now for the real star of the show: the bomb. Much of the hype around this film was built around the fact that Nolan managed to recreate the atomic bomb without the use of computer graphic images. While expectations were high, Nolan delivered in every way. The visual effects were undoubtedly realistic, and his utilization of the silence before hearing the explosion was masterful, especially in the environment of the theater. Nolan referenced this effect throughout the film in a brilliant move, the defining silence in key moments after the explosion, showing how the invention of the atomic bomb followed Oppenheimer around for the rest of his life.  

Beyond the bomb, Nolan manages to use Oppenheimer’s story to take on many more themes, often tying the events of Oppenheimer’s life to present-day issues, such as the fear of our own self-destruction and the purpose of innovation. 

Overall, “Oppenheimer” provided a very interesting perspective as a World War II movie. Showing the war from the perspective of scientists was a fascinating and refreshing take on the war.  

Fully worth the three-hour runtime, “Oppenheimer” draws audiences in with the promise of a compelling film about the bomb that changed the world but ends up being so much more.  

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