Oppenheimer: Anti-Nuclear Groups Welcome Christopher Nolan's Film But Say It Fails To Depict True Horror; Read On
Oppenheimer: Christopher Nolan’s Film Presents Historically Accurate Ethical Doubts Of The Physicist & The Invention Of Atomic Bomb But Fails To Depict The True Horrors, Says Anti-Nuclear Groups ( Photo Credit – YouTube )

Christopher Nolan’s film Oppenheimer is now released in theatres today after much anticipation. Fans have been eagerly waiting for the Cillian Murphy starrer ever since it was announced in 2021. The film explores Oppenheimer’s moral quandary over his role in creating the most destructive weapon ever made.

The film, written and directed by Nolan, is based on the 2005 American Prometheus biography by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. It stars Cillian Murphy as J Robert Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist who is known as the father of Atom Bomb.

While Oppenheimer is being praised for being historically accurate to portray Oppenheimer’s ethical doubts about his invention and his subsequent persecution by the US government, the film lacked to capture the horrifying, gory details of the death of the victims, claims the report The Guardian.

One of the closing scenes of Oppenheimer showed translucent, flesh-toned material tearing off a woman’s face. She represented the victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whose skin was burned off in the blast.

However, the film’s skilful representation, which minimises the impact of the bomb on human suffering, pales in comparison to the horrible reality in Japan. Instead, Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster movie is a frantic investigation of the US government’s scientific endeavour to create a nuclear bomb before the Nazis did at the end of World War II. The project’s namesake, J. Robert Oppenheimer, was in charge.

The film explores Oppenheimer’s moral quandary over his role in creating the most destructive weapon ever made, but nuclear disarmament campaigners fear its power to persuade people of the existential threat posed by nuclear arms may be diminished by its focus on scientific achievement.

“The overall impact of the film is unbalanced – people leave the theatre thinking how exciting a process it was, not thinking ‘God, this was a terrible weapon of mass destruction and look what’s happened today’,” said Carol Turner, a co-chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s London branch.

“The effect of the [Hiroshima and Nagasaki] blasts was to remove the skin in a much more gory and horrible way – in the film, it was tastefully, artfully presented. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you look at photographs of actual survivors and read accounts of what happened to them, it was a very horrifying, gory death.”

Despite these reservations, Turner believes it’s positive that the film is bringing attention to the “real and present danger” that nuclear weapons offer in the confrontation between Russia and Ukraine. As illustrated by the relative calm surrounding the storage of US nuclear weapons in the UK compared to the indignation of prior decades, this is particularly true at a time when there is little public conversation.

Diédre Paterno Pai, a manager at Pax Sapiens, an NGO specialising in armed conflict, said: “I don’t know that the general public understands how easy it could be to fall into a nuclear conflict. And the groups working to prevent that from happening are not front and centre in the way that climate change or other existential threats are.”

The executive director of the Basic research tank, Sebastian Brixey-Williams, expressed hope that the movie could counteract the public’s “deep sense of apathy” caused by the nuclear debate’s almost total exclusion from the arts during the past three decades.

“The universe is calling for people to start doing this kind of film. In some ways, it’s quite elegant because it’s not looking at some of these issues directly but asking more reflective questions about nuclear weapons – and that internal struggle Oppenheimer faced really plays out at a societal level. They are difficult trade-offs to make,” he said.

“Nuclear weapons are becoming part of the international conversation again, and that’s a double-edged sword. I’m glad they are, but this is because nuclear risks are rising,” he added, citing recent US and Russian exits from cold war-era arms control treaties in combination with China’s nuclear arms buildup as reasons for the escalating threats.

According to Brixey-Williams, Christopher Nolan’s film may motivate viewers to take action on nuclear issues, such as backing multilateral negotiations on large nuclear arsenal reductions or defending the rights of Indigenous people who are harmed by uranium mining and weapons testing.

He said: “The human story about Oppenheimer is a useful way into that – it throws down the gauntlet for NGOs like us to give people the tools to respond. [Nuclear weapons] are as out of control as the climate emergency is, but it’s just getting much, much less attention.”

For more updates on Hollywood news, follow Koimoi.

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