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Why Nolan Chose Oppenheimer As His New Movie’s Protagonist

May 25, 2023


Christopher Nolan is opening up about why he chose to direct the upcoming film Oppenheimer. A thriller centering on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the movie will follow the development of the Manhattan Project as Oppenheimer puts the finishing touches on the atomic bombs that would change the world forever. It’s a new type of movie for Nolan, who previously worked on the action-packed projects The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk, and Interstellar.
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In an interview with Total Film, Nolan explained exactly why he found Oppenheimer so fascinating, noting it’s the ambiguity of the atomic bomb’s inventor that drew him to the subject. Nolan will have more than enough space to mine the character to his core, too, since Oppenheimer will also be Nolan’s longest film yet, with a runtime of nearly three hours. Check out his quote below:

“[I’m] drawn to interesting protagonists – protagonists who have ambiguity to them. I think of any character I’ve dealt with, Oppenheimer is by far the most ambiguous and paradoxical. Which, given that I’ve made three Batman films, is saying a lot.”

Who Was Oppenheimer?

Oppenheimer himself is certainly a difficult man to approach for a biography. As the director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during World War II, he became the Father of the Atomic Bomb through his Manhattan Project work and became enshrined in history because of it. His work would eventually culminate in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings that would bring the war to an end and usher the Soviet Union and the United States into the Cold War.

Despite his involvement in the development of nuclear weapons, Oppenheimer spent the rest of his life advocating against their use. He attempted to prevent the world from developing the hydrogen bomb and argued against the continuation of the Mutually Assured Destruction policy, which ensured nuclear proliferation. Everything about Oppenheimer’s life indicates that he was profoundly against nuclear technology for anything except energy development.

It’s that contradiction that has drawn Nolan to create Oppenheimer. The legendary physicist was simply doing his best in an ambiguous time, and the over-sized impact that he had on the future of humanity is more than enough to draw eyes to the man. Oppenheimer will offer Nolan the opportunity to delve deep into J. Robert Oppenheimer’s true motivations as he worked to create a bomb he hoped to never use.

Source: Total Film

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