The Correct Way to Watch Oppenheimer (To Actually Understand What's Going On)

The Correct Way to Watch Oppenheimer (To Actually Understand What's Going On)
Image credit: Legion-Media

Why the director chose colour and black and white shots.

Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer is one of the most eagerly anticipated movies of 2023. And, as you can imagine with a piece of Nolan's work, it promises to be no average film.

In the run up to the movies' launch, the London-director has been keen to make sure viewers understand how best to watch the movie to enjoy its full effects – and how the colour and black and white scenes differ from one another.

First off, Nolan recommends watching it on IMAX if possible.

'We put a lot of effort into shooting the film in a way that we can get it out on these large format screens. He told Associated Press, describing the movie as a 'great way of giving people an experience that they can't possibly get in the home.'

But it's not just the IMAX element of the filmmaking that makes this movie spectacular. Anyone who has followed the news and hype surrounding Oppenheimer will know that it was shot in a combination of colour and black and white scenes.

In itself, this is not groundbreaking. But the way in which each colour palette is used affects the viewing experience, and it makes sense to understand how from the outset. If you don't know what's going on, you might find the whole thing a bit confusing.

Nolan explained that there are 'two timelines…running in the film.'

'One is in colour,' he said, 'and that's Oppenheimer's subjective experience.' These shots make up what he described as 'the bulk of the film.'

The other timeline was shot in black and white and is 'a more objective view of his story from a different character's point of view.'

So intent was Nolan on making sure the black and white sections of the film are equal in quality to those shot in colour, that he is the first filmmaker to produce black and white IMAX stock.

Now, that's groundbreaking. But what else did you expect from Christopher Nolan?

Talking about why he likes IMAX so much, Nolan explained: 'The sharpness…clarity and…depth of the image is unparalleled.' Adding 'by shooting on IMAX 70mm film, you're really letting the screen disappear. You're getting a feeling of 3D without the glasses. You've got a huge screen and you're filling the peripheral vision of the audience…immersing them in the world of the film.'

For the best possible viewing experience, Nolan suggests IMAX 70mm screenings. But with fewer than 30 cinemas anywhere in the world offering this, most of us will need to find another way.

But fear not – the director says both non-IMAX 70mm and IMAX digital showings will still be something special. And he's even got advice on where to sit.

For those non-IMAX 70mm showings, he prefers 'middle of the third row,' while for the full IMAX experience, he prefers 'to be behind the centre line right up the middle.'

Source: The Associated Press.