This Surprising Historical Fact Almost Got Oppenheimer Canceled

This Surprising Historical Fact Almost Got Oppenheimer Canceled
Image credit: Legion-Media

Once again, Hollywood gets it wrong.

The summer 2023 Hollywood blockbuster Oppenheimer did an outstanding job of presenting the good, the bad, and the ugly of J. Robert Oppenheimer. It introduced audiences to the numerous accomplishments of the 'Father of the Atomic Bomb,' while also exposing some of the physicist's greatest flaws.

The biopic is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird. As such, writer-director Christopher Nolan attempted to follow the book and honor the story while adding his own traditional twists.

The formula worked, as Oppenheimer opened simultaneously against the other major blockbuster of the summer, Barbie, and still managed to gross nearly $1 billion worldwide. The numbers were strong enough to make Oppenheimer the highest-grossing World War II film and biopic of all time.

Nevertheless, not everyone in Hollywood was satisfied. In fact, even before production was complete, there was an outcry that threatened to sink Oppenheimer.

Nolan fought critics of steamy Oppenheimer affair

Oppenheimer portrays the life of the man who invented the atomic bomb. As a result, there are moments that are funny and uplifting, while others are sad and tragic. Oppenheimer was a complex man who worked to calm the fever of the developing arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States.

However, he was branded a communist and spent much of his adult life trying to shed that image in the American public. Furthermore, his affair with Jean Tatlock demonstrates the fragile aura of the brilliant mind.

Tatlock, played in the movie by Florence Pugh, has a heated but shallow affair with Dr. Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy). Nolan is not afraid to present this romance on the big screen, which is exactly where some critics began to lash out at the filmmaker.

At issue is the age difference between the two characters. In real life, Dr. Oppenheimer began dating Tatlock when he was 32 and she was 22. In the movie, however, the age difference between the actors is even more extreme (27 vs. 47). Thus, some critics believe that Nolan promoted the wrong image by casting Pugh and Murphy.

Oppenheimer affair mirrors history in film

Critics may have a problem with the age gap between the two actors, but it's a fair representation of the real story. J. Robert Oppenheimer was a professor of physics at the University of Cal, Berkeley when he met Tatlock, who was a graduate student at nearby Stanford. The film explores the dark, secret lifestyle the two characters may have led away from the university, where it's known they attended communist rallies together.

However, the fact that Oppenheimer was almost shut down because people disagreed with the age difference, when it only reflects reality, is unjustified. Yes, it's fair to say that Hollywood has an image to repair, especially when it comes to misrepresenting young women. But to attack Oppenheimer for misrepresentation is just wrong.

Source: Vanity Fair.