Epic 'Oppenheimer' Movie Will Explore the Science that Ended WWII

Cillian Murphy Oppenheimer
Cillian Murphy stars in the WWII movie "Oppenheimer." (Universal)

If J. Robert Oppenheimer hadn't led the team that successfully developed the atomic bomb, history would look a lot different. The Allies would have invaded Japan and suffered untold casualties. Many of us probably would have never been born, because our grandfathers or great-grandfathers would've been killed in action.

That's not necessarily how Oppenheimer saw the result of his work. The physicist spent the rest of his life burdened with the knowledge of the damage his creation had wrought at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and that guilt led more than a few Americans to question his patriotism in the post-war years.

Director Christopher Nolan follows his award-winning World War II drama "Dunkirk" and the pandemic-era casualty "Tenet" with "Oppenheimer," a big-budget movie about the scientist's life and struggles. The movie is set for release on July 21, 2023, and Universal Pictures has just released the first trailer.

Irish actor Cillian Murphy stars as J. Robert Oppenheimer. He appeared as The Scarecrow in all three of Nolan's Batman movies, played Robert Fischer in "Inception," and even made a brief cameo in "Dunkirk." Murphy also starred as Tommy Shelby in the Netflix series "Peaky Blinders" and the movie "A Quiet Place Part II."

Actors want to be in a Christopher Nolan movie, so we get an all-star cast that included Emily Blunt ("Sicario"), Matt Damon ("The Bourne Identity"), Robert Downey Jr. ("Iron Man"), Florence Pugh ("Black Widow"), Gary Oldman ("Slow Horses"), Casey Affleck ("The Finest Hours"), Rami Malek ("No Time to Die"), Kenneth Branagh ("Dunkirk"), David Dastmalchian ("The Suicide Squad"), David Krumholtz ("The Plot Against America"), Jack Quaid ("The Boys"), Josh Hartnett ("Black Hawk Down"), James Remar ("Dexter") and Olivia Thirlby ("Dredd").

Nolan wrote the screenplay and based it on the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Oppenheimer "American Prometheus" by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Much of the movie was filmed on location near the actual test sites at Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Nolan makes it clear that the movie will focus on the scientist's moral struggle. "We imagine a future and our imaginings horrify. They would fear it until they understand it, and they won't understand it until they've used it," Oppenheimer says in the trailer. "Theory will only take you so far. I don't know if we can be trusted with such a weapon but we have no choice."

As the director's fans know, Nolan likes to experiment with structure and push the envelope with movie technology. This time, he filmed in IMAX and insisted that certain scenes needed to be in black and white. No one had ever contemplated the idea that anyone would ever want to employ the large-screen format for anything that wasn't in color, but Nolan got his way, and we'll see our first black-and-white IMAX footage next summer in theaters..

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