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  • Tristan Mehta

Oppenheimer

The film Oppenheimer was released on the 21 of July 2023, written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The main character is played by Cillian Murphy.


The plot follows a 22-year-old doctoral student J. Robert Oppenheimer who later invents the atomic bomb. When he is 22 years old, he struggles with anxiety and homesickness, while studying at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. Niels Bohr suggests that Oppenheimer should instead study theoretical physics at Göttingen. After getting his PhD, he goes to meet theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg in Switzerland. Oppenheimer wants to expand quantum physics in the United States, so he starts teaching at the University of California in Berkeley and the California Institute of Technology. While he does this, he meets his future wife Katherine Puening who he calls Kitty. Kitty is a biologist and ex-communist.

In December 1938 nuclear fusion is discovered and Oppenheimer realizes he can weaponize it. In 1942 Army General Leslie Groves recruits Oppenheimer to lead the Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb and defend themselves from the Germans and the Japanese. The Germans had a 12-month head start to complete their nuclear program and Heisenberg leads the Project. As soon as Oppenheimer is made lead for the Manhattan Project, he assembles a team of scientists to help him make the bomb. In the process, one of his colleague's calculations reveals an atomic detonation could trigger a chain reaction that ignites the atmosphere and destroys the world. Oppenheimer is concerned, so he goes to Albert Einstein for help and he concludes that the chances of a chain reaction are exceptionally low. After 3 years and 2 billion US dollars, the Atomic Bomb is ready and has passed the Trinity Test. President Harry S. Truman orders Hiroshima and Nagasaki to be bombed, forcing Japan to surrender.


Even though Oppenheimer is publicly praised, he is haunted by the mass destruction and fatalities and urges restricting further use of atomic weapons. There is a man called Lewis Strauss AEC Chairman, who resents Oppenheimer for publicly humiliating him by dismissing his concerns about exporting radioisotopes and for recommending negotiations with the Soviet Union after they successfully detonate their own bomb. He also believes that Oppenheimer previously denigrated him to Einstein in 1947. In 1954, wanting to eliminate Oppenheimer's political influence, Strauss secretly orchestrates a private hearing before a Personnel Security Board concerning Oppenheimer's Q clearance. However, it becomes clear that the hearing has a predetermined outcome. The board revokes Oppenheimer's clearance, damaging his public image and limiting his influence on nuclear policy. Hill (one of the people at the project) testifies about Strauss' personal motives in engineering Oppenheimer's downfall, resulting in the Senate voting against his nomination. In 1963, President Lyndon B. Johnson presents Oppenheimer with the Enrico Fermi Award a gesture of political rehabilitation. A flashback to Oppenheimer's 1947 conversation with Einstein reveals that Strauss was never mentioned, and Oppenheimer instead expressed his sombre belief that he did indeed start a chain reaction that would destroy the world.

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