’Oppenheimer’ First Images Reveal Christopher Nolan’s Next Epic
As we wrap 2022, we are already taking a peek at what the next year has to offer us in terms of movies. In between Marvel and DC epics, there is one particular film that stands out in the crowd. Renowned filmmaker Christopher Nolan is making a comeback to the big screen with his new movie, Oppenheimer.
The film follows Cillian Murphy as Robert J. Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist that was at the helm of the Manhattan Project back in World War II, the ultra-secret endeavor to create the first atomic bomb. Speaking to Total Film Magazine, which just premiered six new images from Oppenheimer, Nolan revealed that he’s been waiting many years to make a movie headlined by Murphy:
“I’ve always known since I first met him – however many years ago it is now, almost 20 years – that he is one of the great actors, not just of his generation, but of all time. And I’ve been waiting for the project, and I know he has too, where we can collaborate with him as the lead, and I could put the most enormous weight – cinematic weight – on his shoulders, and watch him carry that burden. It was such a thrill to be able to call Cillian, and say, ‘This is it.’”
Murphy has appeared in most of Nolan’s films since Batman Begins, but he’s never had the lead role. He is joined in Oppenheimer by an outstanding cast, which includes Emily Blunt as his on-screen wife, Kitty, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman, and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission. In the interview, the director couldn’t stop hyping up Downey Jr.’s work in the film:
“We all know that Robert Downey Jr. is one of the great movie stars. It’s so easy to forget that he’s also one of the greatest actors of all time. Watching him lose himself in that performance, and completely lose himself in a character in this way, was just an incredible reminder of just what an amazing actor he is.”
So far, only a handful of images and a small, minute-long teaser, are available. Up until Total Film‘s reveal, everything we’d seen from the movie was in black and white. However, as we can see in more of these photos, and as Nolan revealed in the interview, this will not be the case for the entire movie. Only parts of it will be in black-and-white, a nice callback to his early days as a filmmaker:
“I very much loved the structural assistance and the aesthetic charge of shifting between color and black and white that I had on ‘Memento’. I’d always been looking for a reason to go back to that. And in the case of ‘Oppenheimer’ and the way in which we tell this story, it’s very subjectively [told], but also with a more objective story strand that intertwines with that. It was really the perfect time to go back to that device that I loved so much.
So we challenged the people at Kodak photochem to make this work for us. And they stepped up. For the first time ever, we were able to shoot IMAX film in black-and-white. And the results were thrilling and extraordinary. As soon as Hoyte [van Hoytema, Nolan cinematographer since Interstellar] and I saw the first tests come in, we just knew that this was a format that we were immediately in love with.”
As mentioned earlier, the film will depict the creation of the first atomic bomb, as well as the aftermath of the explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It may surprise some viewers to learn, though, that Nolan did not recreate the explosion using computer graphics, but rather practical effects. He explained:
“Andrew Jackson – my visual effects supervisor, I got him on board early on – was looking at how we could do a lot of the visual elements of the film practically, from representing quantum dynamics and quantum physics to the Trinity test itself, to recreating, with my team, Los Alamos up on a mesa in New Mexico in extraordinary weather, a lot of which was needed for the film, in terms of the very harsh conditions out there – there were huge practical challenges.”
It was a running joke in the early days of filming Oppenheimer that Nolan would lose himself in the process and detonate an atomic bomb just so he could film it. It seems like the director was close after all. And with all of the above in mind, and everything else that’s being put into the film, the director couldn’t be more thrilled. He calls Oppenheimer one of the biggest challenges in his career, and yet he couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve achieved so far:
“It’s a story of immense scope and scale. And one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever taken on in terms of the scale of it, and in terms of encountering the breadth of Oppenheimer’s story. There were big, logistical challenges, big practical challenges. But I had an extraordinary crew, and they really stepped up. It will be a while before we’re finished. But certainly as I watch the results come in, and as I’m putting the film together, I’m thrilled with what my team has been able to achieve.”
Oppenheimer is the first film that Nolan is making for a studio different than Warner Bros. in a long time. Universal is backing up the project this time, and with the box office now settling into a new normal, they might have a hit in their hands.
The film, scheduled to hit theaters on July 21, 2023, will go up against Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, a WB film.
Miguel Fernández is a Spanish student that has movies as his second passion in life. His favorite movie of all time is The Lord of the Rings, but he is also a huge Star Wars fan. However, fantasy movies are not his only cup of tea, as authors like Scorsese, Fincher, Kubrick or Hitchcock have been an obsession for him since he started to understand the language of filmmaking. He is that guy who will watch a black and white movie, just because it is in black and white.