By Marc W. Polite
Films about historical events are often a hard sell. Regarded by some as a dry discipline that has very little to do with our current reality, history is supposedly meant to be left in the classroom. The film “Oppenheimer” shows this outlook to be flawed. Starring Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist who led a team of scientists that created the first atomic bomb. Known as The Manhattan Project, it transpired from 1942 to 1945. With a raging World War II and Nazi Germany forging its own effort to create an atomic bomb, the team assembled at Los Alamos, New Mexico convened under a dire sense of urgency. This urgency was conveyed in this film.
In three hours, “Oppenheimer” tells the story of those involved in the Manhattan Project. Showing the politics of the early to mid-1940s, viewers will see how the geopolitical realities of that time dictated what the scientists could do. Furthermore, it is shown how easily even people regarded as indispensable can be utilized, and then eventually discarded. This film in many ways wrestles with the ethics of using the atomic bomb towards the end of the Second World War. Historians still debate to this day whether or not the use of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was necessary. This is a movie that can initiate so many different discussions. It is a reminder that the United States is the only nation to have ever actually used nuclear weapons in a conflict.
Oppenheimer shows that the atomic age that began more than 70 years ago still hangs over humanity as a threat to our very existence. In the context of an escalating regional conflict and increasing international tensions, it is a reason to give us all a reason to take a pause and realize what is at stake. Oppenheimer is a powerful movie, and it is a film worth seeing.