CHRISTOPHER NOLAN is used to creating esoteric concepts for the big screen. From his layered and timeline-shifting spy thriller Tenet (2020), long dubbed one of his most technically-advanced, to the absolute mind boggle that is the dreams-upon-dreams Leonardo DiCaprio fronted Inception (2020) — the British-American filmmaker — who, shockingly, is yet to pick up an Oscar — never fails to confuse and delight us with his cerebral, often non-linear visual epics. But his latest, Oppenheimer is set to keep us up at night stewing over various twists and theories, according to the biographer whose very book inspired Nolan’s film.

Historian Kai Bird, co-author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, alongside the late Martin J. Sherwin., revealed during a conversation with historian David Nirenberg that he’s still “emotionally recovering” from watching Nolan’s adaptation.

“I am, at the moment, stunned and emotionally recovering from having seen it,” Bird began, before gushing over Nolan’s cinematography. “I think it is going to be a stunning artistic achievement, and I have hopes it will actually stimulate a national, even global conversation about the issues that Oppenheimer was desperate to speak out about — about how to live in the atomic age, how to live with the bomb and about McCarthyism — what it means to be a patriot, and what is the role for a scientist in a society drenched with technology and science, to speak out about public issues.”


Clocking in almost three hours, Oppenheimer will be Nolan’s longest film to date. It’s also his first R-rated feature since 2002’s Insomnia starring Al Pacino, Hilary Swank and the late Robin Williams. Based on Bird’s biography of the famous American physicist and past IAS Director, Cillian Murphy stars as the titled hero J. Robert Oppenheimer — the founding father of the atomic bomb — and features a stellar cast including Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Josh Peck, David Dastmalchian, and more.

Previously, Nolan has spoken about some of the challenges of creating Oppenheimer — from successfully portraying genius on screen — “it very often fails to engage people” — to the big bang itself, which he astonishingly re-created without CGI.

“I actually wrote in the first-person, which I’ve never done before. I don’t know if anyone’s ever done it before. But the point of it is, with the colour sequences, which is the bulk of the film, everything is told from Oppenheimer’s point of view — you’re literally kind of looking through his eyes.”

Oppenheimer is scheduled for release on July 21, the same day as Greta Gerwig’s equally-anticipated Barbie movie. What will you be lining up to see?


A timeline of the allegations against Ezra Miller (and what they mean for DC)

Netflix docuseries Arnold is revealing big secrets from the Terminator set