Remika Sirikulthada sings the praises of Christopher Nolan, and his mammoth, all-star biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer.
Of all the blockbuster movies released this summer, few have yet to attain the hype and level of publicity as Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. This extraordinary cinematic experience follows the Manhattan Project developed by Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy), and his journey through life pre and post-nuclear bomb. The story follows the journey of Oppenheimer who begins as a generic physicist merely trying to find his way in life and excel in his education. This biopic has it all- from captivating storytelling, to Oscar-worthy acting and top-tier cinematography, it is almost guaranteed that each audience member will be moved after viewing this movie.
It goes without saying the film could never have reached such a world-renowned status if it wasn’t for the experience and brains of Christopher Nolan. His cinematography played a pivotal role in elevating every aspect of this film. The film follows a nonlinear structure, one aspect of Nolan’s signature style. This allows him to weave together both Oppenheimer’s personal struggles, but also Lewis Strauss’ (Robert Downey Jr) objective historical perspective of the trial, post-nuclear bomb. Nolan decided to shoot Oppenheimer on IMAX film, which provides the viewers with an enhanced timeless viewing of the storyline. In this movie, the choice of film over digital not only highlights the historical authenticity of the plotline, but also creates a sense of nostalgia- allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the World War II era.
It goes without saying the film could never have reached such a world-renowned status if it wasn’t for the experience and brains of Christopher Nolan.
A large majority of the film focuses on the secretive location of Los Alamos where most of the film’s set pieces and landscapes were captured. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema was in charge of pulling the strings and ensuring the set design was created to the highest standard. One of the most notable points of the movie is its intimate close-up shots during moments of personal introspection, allowing the audience to connect with each of the characters on display. This largely contrasts with the test scenes, filled with explosive visuals and an underlying tone of danger throughout.
My personal favourite element of the film was the composition and music on screen which added another layer of intensity throughout. Composer Ludwig Göransson perfectly heightens each emotion on screen, leaving viewers engaged throughout. Along with this, the film never would have been so great without the amazing support cast who also deserve praise for their exceptional performances. Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, Emily Blunt as Kitty Oppenheimer, Remi Malek as David L. Hill and Jack Quaid as Richard Feynman, are only a few names from the long list of remarkable acting throughout the film. Getting to see Oppenheimer’s personal life and complex relationships with those around him adds more emotional dimension to the story, generating not only an element of scientific discovery, but also one of deep human nature.
Composer Ludwig Göransson perfectly heightens each emotion on screen, leaving viewers engaged throughout.
The biggest critique of the film is definitely its length, as many would naturally find the three-hour runtime challenging. However, I will say the slow burn element was perfectly portrayed and Nolan did an excellent job in keeping me entertained throughout, making the three-hours pass by in the blink of an eye.
In conclusion, there is no limit to Christopher Nolan’s greatness. Oppenheimer is an intellectually stimulating and emotionally gripping cinematic experience, presenting viewers with outstanding characters and plotlines. What was a personally unforgettable viewing experience has made me grateful to have witnessed this masterpiece.