Oppenheimer Movie Review

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I like to publish posts about historical television and movies and I watch. This post will be another of these as I review the movie Oppenheimer, starring Cillian Murphy and several other A list actors including Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, and Robert Downy Jr.

I should begin by saying that this topic is not really in my wheelhouse. I do love World War II history, but this movie is less about that war than it is about the politics and science of the “Manhattan Project”, whose goal was to create the atomic bomb. That said, I enjoyed the movie. I went alone since my wife has absolutely no interest in this topic. The movie is very long, over three hours, and at times is a little slow. If you are looking for a great action-packed movie, this is not it.

The basic story takes us through the forming of the team to work on the Manhattan project, the science behind the project, testing the bomb and then the political fallout that Oppenheimer faced after the bomb was dropped. I think that anyone interested in history will appreciate the history that is presented in the movie. I personally feel that I learned quite a bit about the history of the time from the movie.

I’m not going to ruin the movie for anyone that hasn’t seen it yet, but “spoiler alert” the bomb works and is used to force the Japanese to surrender in World War II. I’m not an Oppenheimer expert and don’t want to be, but as an amateur historian, I left the movie, came home, and did some fact checking on the story that was presented in the film. I found that most everything in the movie has been fact checked and is correct. There are obviously some private conversations and events that were added to add color and some drama, but all the key facts check out as true.

Just to point out a few things that I learned from the film include the following:

• The city of Los Alamos, New Mexico was built in just a few short months to house the scientists and their families for years while they worked on the project. In 1943, it was built as a secret laboratory in the mountains of New Mexico for the Manhattan Project. In the movie, Oppenheimer tells the government that the town will need housing, churches, schools, and businesses to make sure that the scientists have what they need and will not want to leave the project prior to its conclusion. This is important because the project team include some of brightest minds in the nation, minds that could not be easily replaced.
• The process of testing the bomb was interesting to see. I couldn’t help but think about what may have happened to these people, health wise, who were present at the testing of the bomb.
• After the bomb was dropped, Oppenheimer was vocal about the danger that the technology his team developed represented for the world. He knew that the Russians and other countries would eventually catch up and develop their own bombs, which could lead to nuclear war. For his opinions, he was ostracized and targeted by the government who wanted to ruin him and discredit his opinions. He and his wife, played by Emily Blunt were attacked for Communist party association before the war even began.

Overall, I think if you are a history fan, the movie will be interesting enough to sit through three hours. If history is not really your thing, it might be a tough watch. Possibly the best way to watch it might be to wait until it comes to a streaming service and watch it in two or three sessions. The acting is very good. I loved Cillian Murphy in “Peaky Blinders”, and he is good in this also. I expect the film to get several Oscar nominations, mainly because this is the type of film, that gets Oscar nominations. Popular, fun, action-packed movies don’t seem to get Oscar recognition, which seems odd to me, but that is a topic for another day.

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