If You Hated This Oppenheimer Scene, You're Not Alone: Oppenheimer's Grandson Disliked It Too
The scene casts a dark shadow on the scientist's legacy.
Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer hit theaters some ten days ago, becoming one of the main contenders for Oscars this year. Revolving around the titular character, 'the father of the atomic bomb' J. Robert Oppenheimer, the movie tells viewers the story of his life prior, during, and after the invention of the weapon.
Full of drama and personal struggle, Oppenheimer lasts a whopping three hours during which we learn many details about the legendary physicist. The movie doesn't shy away from exploring Oppenheimer's darker sides, presenting us with a twisted yet very realistic portrayal of his personality.
In this sense, Nolan's new film contains some scenes that viewers, especially those who are familiar with historical facts, tend to not receive well. Arguably, the most disturbing of these is Oppenheimer poisoning his professor's apple with cyanide. As you would expect, the scientist's real-life grandson has criticized this controversial scene.
Set at the beginning of the film, the poisoning scene follows young Oppenheimer during his time at Cambridge where he studied under Patrick Blackett. Seemingly oppressed by the professor, the future creator of the nuclear weapon decides to avenge him by spritzing a dose of cyanide from the lab into an apple that another student leaves on Blackett's table to butter him up.
Affected by the pangs of conscience, Robert rushes back to throw away the fruit just in time before a visiting professor is treated to it on the next day.
As much as it is disturbing, the scene is also dubious in the sense of whether the poisoning accident actually took place.
Nolan's biopic is based on American Prometheus by K. Bird and M. J. Sherwin. Remarkably, the Oppenheimer biography's authors claim that there's no substantial evidence to prove the poisoning attempt indeed happened, so including the scene in the film casts a dark shadow on the scientists and his descendants.
'I definitely would have removed the apple thing. But I can't imagine myself giving advice about movie stuff to Nolan. He's an expert, he's the artist, and he's a genius in this area,' Robert Oppenheimer's grandson, Charles, shared with Time Magazine.
Perhaps the poisoning scene served well to establish the complexity and contradictory nature of Oppenheimer's personality — he is callous enough to attempt to kill a person, let alone to create a weapon of mass destruction, yet he seems sorry about the terrible things his discoveries led to.
Be sure to check out Christopher Nolan's film in theaters if you haven't already.
Source: Time Magazine.