Home » Oppenheimer Review: one of the greatest films of all time

Oppenheimer Review: one of the greatest films of all time

Christopher Nolan uses the birth of the atomic bomb to tell us about cinema and images, signing one of the greatest films ever.

I became Death, the destroyer of worlds

Something miraculous happens, in the first few minutes of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer: as if, after the breakdown of Dunkirk and the rewind of Tenet, the author has figured out how to take the time factor out of the equation-cinema, abandoning the narrative-and the images-to a flow in which everything seems to happen simultaneously.

Approaching the work, based on the book ‘Robert Oppenheimer, the Father of the Atomic Bomb. The Triumph and Tragedy of a Scientist’ by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, in the perspective of Christopher Nolan’s entire cinema and its evolution over the years, over the course of time, the author’s goal with this 12th feature film (the first biopic, the second based on a true story, the third to use black and white: as if, just as with quantum mechanics, there was an invisible pattern determining its hand) is apparent from the very first minutes.

Oppenheimer wants to remind us that in cinema, images have always been faster than sound, that seeing is more instantaneous and instinctive than feeling: that is why, contrary to what one might think, Oppenheimer is not so much a film about time as it is about speed, about the gap between what we see and the thunderous roar that follows what we saw.

Oppenheimer: image beyond sound

Pay attention to it: notice the rapidity of the editing cuts, the frantic pace with which scenes and sequences chase each other and follow each other (seldom has a three-hour film been seen so fast to ‘fly by’), the loose talkiness with which Nolan has all the actors act, the multitude of nicknames used to shorten, abbreviate, and save time, the way dialogue sometimes begins in one location and continues elsewhere, in a moment later in time; and then the constant back and forth between a past present and future, between a past, a present and a future, or the winks that either mock time (“already pregnant, how fast!”) or fear it (“we should have taken a plane, it would have been faster”). And especially how Oppenheimer, film and character protagonist, tends to speed up his own thinking when he is raptured by visions of the quantum world that only he, prophet Prometheus the firebearer, seems able to see, and which Nolan realizes with particle inserts reminiscent of Kubrick or Malick.

But the one of Oppenheimer is a The Tree of Life of destruction, not of creation, of death and not of life: a destruction triggered by speed, of thought (we must beat the Nazis on time) and thinking (you have to find a way around that time), that Nolan achieves by making images faster than the sound they make, or that cinema has taught us that they should emit.

Oppenheimer Movie Review 1

Not surprisingly one of the leitmotifs of the story (in a characteristic trait of his cinema, again Nolan shows us the same scene over and over again, gradually adding an extra layer of meaning, but the manner in which he repurposes this narrative technique finally denotes its ultimate mastery) will be a meeting between Oppenheimer and Einstein, which we see right away but without ever being able to hear it, for several times like an echo: at the beginning of the film the image, its sound at the end..

Oppenheimer: a movie between black and white

After all, everything about Oppenheimer is a tale of a thought image that quickly takes shape, the very concept behind cinema: an image destined to explode, an image that cannot be reproduced but only looked at (behind massive doses of visual, if not moral, protections) in turn causing a myriad of other images that you don’t have the ability to look at instead: and in fact there is a great moment when Cillian Murphy refuses to look at his true creation, the burned charred melted destroyed bodies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which the film does not show us by lingering pitifully on its protagonist’s face and especially on his eyes wandering beyond, away from the images.

Because all Oppenheimer is a chain reaction: the use of black and white is not, as some have mistakenly written, a trivial temporal map to keep track of the labyrinthine twists and turns between the protagonist’s past and future, but rather a dualistic approach to reality and its causality. In contrast to Blonde by Andrew Dominik, in which all possible image formats and colors conspired to recreate all the truths that our gaze wanted to see and create of Marilyn Monroe, Nolan plays with color and the absence of color (another era of transition in cinema, following the one from silent to sound) to stage a theoretical double feature on how the subjective and the objective are closely related by a cause and effect relationship, about how images (from Plato) can mislead the beholder and tell opposite truths based on the individual viewing and (not) hearing them.

Oppenheimer Movie Review 2

All the restlessness and oppression that the objective view of reality exerts on the individual becomes, in the subjective view of man, an illusion of horror and guilt so powerful that it is capable of cracking even the material (masterful sex scene with Florence Pugh, in which Nolan creates a direct line between the real world and the world of the unconscious) or generate prophetic dreams that we would be better off not being able to see (in a shocking ending you will never forget.).

A film that, regardless of the accolades the industry may or may not decide to bestow on it, will be remembered as one of the greatest ever made.


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Matteo Regoli

critica i film, poi gli chiede scusa si occupa di cinema, e ne è costantemente occupato è convinto che nello schermo, a contare davvero, siano le immagini porta avanti con poca costanza Fatti di Cinema, blog personale

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