From Page to Screen: Biographer of Oppenheimer Weighs In on Nolan's Film
'It is going to be a stunning artistic achievement.'
Dr Robert Oppenheimer – commonly known as the 'father of the atomic bomb' – was one of the most controversial figures in modern history. As part of Operation Manhattan, Oppenheimer was the brains behind the nuclear weapons that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.
But to paint him as an evil man or someone intent on mass-killing would be wrong. The life of Oppenheimer is one full of twists and turns, an awareness of all that science can do (good and bad), and a desire to leave the world a better place.
It is a multi-faceted story which nobody understands better than biographer Kai Bird who co-wrote American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer with Martin J Sherman.
Having already seen the movie, Bird told Variety 'I am, at the moment, stunned and emotionally recovering from having seen it.' Adding, 'I think it is going to be a stunning artistic achievement.'
But it's not just on an artistic level that Bird believes the film will be a success. He has 'high hopes it will actually stimulate a national, even global conversation about the issues that Oppenheimer was desperate to speak about — about how to live in the atomic age, how to live with the bomb and about McCarthyism — what it means to be a patriot, and what is the role for a scientist in a society drenched with technology and science, to speak out about public issues.'
Taking such a story from page to screen requires a filmmaker of the highest calibre: step forward Christopher Nolan.
Nolan is one of the most progressive directors of recent times. While his most recent production, Tenet, was something of a damp squib at the box office, even some who were unimpressed by much of the movie still marvelled at elements of the cinematography.
Oppenheimer is not your average biopic. In this movie, Nolan has tried to get deep inside the mind and conscience of a man who has split public opinion for nearly 80 years. It's a film about how one of the biggest catastrophes in human history came about – and what it meant for the man at the very heart of it.
Neither is it the first time Nolan has worked on a biographical movie. Before Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) went into production, Nolan had been planning a biopic based on the life of Howard Hughes.
This time, Nolan got in before anybody else and, if Bird's comments are anything to go by, moviegoers are in for a real treat.
Cillian Murphy stars as the titular character opposite Emily Blunt, who plays his wife Kitty. And there are some other huge names appearing in the movie such as Kenneth Branagh, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, Gary Oldman, Rami Malek and Tom Conti.