Based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, OPPENHEIMER revolves around J. Robert Oppenheimer, who is considered the “father” of the atomic bomb. The film deals with Oppenheimer’s early research, his directing role on the Manhattan Project, and the later controversies during the 1954 security hearing.
OPPENHEIMER is the most ambitious and urgent work from Oscar owner, director Christopher Nolan, delving into the psychology of the brilliant scientific brain behind the world-shaking invention. The atomic bomb represents human ingenuity – an invention that rewrites the course of human history, even if its existence directly threatens the future beyond humans.
Christopher Nolan said: “What I wanted to do was put the audience in the mind and experience of the person who was at the absolute center of the greatest historical upheaval. Like it or not, J. Robert Oppenheimer is the most important historical figure. For better or for worse, he made the world we have today. The story of that life must be seen to be believed.”
The work stars Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss – a senior member of the US Atomic Energy Commission who sees Oppenheimer as a rival. The film also stars Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek and Kenneth Branagh. This is Nolan’s first R-rated film. OPPENHEIMER received rave reviews for its cast, script, and visuals, and broke multiple box office records.
OPPENHEIMER’s domestic opening is $80.5 million, surpassing Interstellar and Inception to become a Christopher Nolan-directed film with the highest opening in history (excluding Batman films). The work is a Nolan film with a record IMAX opening, an R-rated biographical drama with the highest opening. In markets like India or Indonesia, OPPENHEIMER became the Nolan film with the most impressive debut.
As of August 2, the film has grossed over $181 million at the domestic box office and $231 million at the international box office, bringing its total to an impressive $412.4 million on a $100 million budget. OPPENHEIMER is currently in the top 10 domestic grossing films of 2023.
The praise for OPPENHEIMER largely also comes from the performances of the actors, especially Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr., in addition to the visual side and the mark of the state-of-the-art cinematography. The work has 94% “fresh” votes from 419 expert reviews and 91% from 5000 audience reviews on film critic site Rotten Tomatoes.
“Elevated by the performance of Cillian Murphy, the biopic about the father of the atomic bomb from Nolan is monumental and morally complex,” The Wire said. Meanwhile, IndieWire commented: “Oppenheimer is the kind of biopic that only Christopher Nolan can make. Indeed, it seemed the ideal vehicle for Nolan’s lifetime of exploration into human black holes – the ultimate mysteries of a terrifyingly understandable world.” The Ringer’s Adam Nayman said: “Everything in Christopher Nolan’s latest film is huge. The scale and extent of the shock is breathtaking, but at the same time extremely stressful.”
The Guardian wrote: “The detailed dimension of the film can immerse the audience in it. Overall the work is an amazing achievement” with a rating of 4/5 stars. From Vox, writer Alissa Wilkinson said, “This is a film — a masterpiece among Christopher Nolan’s best — that explores the nature of power: how it is created, how it is kept. balance and the way it leads people into dire situations that turn people away from simple solutions.”
The Atlantic wrote: “What is more impressive is how the director has made such a personal story feel so epic, not only on a visual scale but also on a dramatic level, presenting a story from The past is tied to a lot of current worries about nuclear danger.”
The film also has a cult crew including director of photography Hoyte Van Hoytema (Dunkirk, Tenet); production designer is Ruth De Jong (Us, Nope), costume designer is Ellen Mirojnick (Fatal Attraction, Speed), editor is Jennifer Lame (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Tenet); and music by Ludwig Göransson (Black Panther, Tenet).