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Lobby Pass The Popcorn topic #745291

Subject: "Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)" Previous topic | Next topic
bwood
Member since Apr 03rd 2006
8259 posts
Thu Jul-21-22 05:06 AM

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"Oppenheimer (Christopher Nolan, 2023)"


  

          

Teaser trailer in front of Nope.

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America from 9:00 on: https://youtu.be/GUwLCQU10KQ

  

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Topic Outline
Subject Author Message Date ID
First poster. Here we go...
Jul 21st 2022
1
I don't know if I've ever been quite so excited about a movie.
Jul 21st 2022
2
The opening paragraph of Rhodes's book...
Jul 21st 2022
3
Thanks for this b.
Jul 22nd 2022
4
      Yeah, that I couldn't tell you, other than it's Nolan.
Jul 23rd 2022
10
Beam me up Daddy.
Jul 23rd 2022
5
      RE: Beam me up Daddy.
Jul 23rd 2022
6
           Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.
Jul 23rd 2022
7
                RE: Don’t try to understand it. Feel it.
Jul 23rd 2022
8
The teaser for this W-I-L-D
Jul 23rd 2022
9

bwood
Member since Apr 03rd 2006
8259 posts
Thu Jul-21-22 07:04 AM

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1. "First poster. Here we go..."
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

https://twitter.com/OppenheimerFilm/status/1550080396368482304?t=lONnQ3EmxSXDcvrJZ9QlhQ&s=09

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America from 9:00 on: https://youtu.be/GUwLCQU10KQ

  

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stravinskian
Member since Feb 24th 2003
12500 posts
Thu Jul-21-22 12:28 PM

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2. "I don't know if I've ever been quite so excited about a movie."
In response to Reply # 0
Thu Jul-21-22 12:34 PM by stravinskian

          

I'm shocked that it took so long for someone to make it, but not surprised at all that Christopher Nolan is the one to do it.

Me personally, I'll have to apologize in advance and promise to try not to nerd up the discussion in this thread too much with the history and the physics of what they discovered. I'm sure the actual physics in the movie will be much less than I would have liked. But there's so much drama, even without the explicit calculation of cross sections, that I know it'll be a spectacle long before the first mushroom cloud we see.

This story is the only *real* example I can think of for one of the oldest tropes in drama: regular people, via enormous skill and even greater luck, doing something superhuman and changing the nature of humanity. They found a tiny door in the universe that changed forever, and likely for the last time, what humans will ever be capable of.

Paraphrasing Stanislaw Ulam (who will almost certainly be a significant character in this): the entire direction of international events, the ultimate meaning of war, and the nature of human existence into the indefinite future, would be completely altered if the results of a few mathematical calculations had differed by about five percent.

If we're able to survive climate change and live as a society into the 22nd century, more than anything it will be because of the discoveries made here. And if all of humanity is wiped out and the world is made completely uninhabitable during our lifetime, it will most likely be because of the discoveries made here. The story *since* Oppenheimer is the story of humanity trying to figure out if it can harness its genius or whether it'll be destroyed by it. During my lifetime we've all gotten complacent, but as recent events have reminded us, it only takes one mistake for everything to come crashing down.

I hope the movie isn't entirely about Oppenheimer, because ultimately he was just one of the ten or so most important people in the story. Though he was the first one to really understand all of it, for better and for worse, and at a human level as well as a technical level.

If anyone wants to read up before the movie comes along, I assume the main source material was the biography by Bird and Sherwin, which I'm told is great but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet. (In fact according to IMDB, Bird and Sherwin are listed as writers on the script, along with Nolan. This bodes well.)

The real source that everyone needs to read if they want to know more about the true significance of this story is Richard Rhodes's masterpiece of history writing, "The Making of the Atomic Bomb." I've been rereading it myself and I've never seen a story so profound. You don't have to know any physics to read it, though being interested in a few technical details would really help especially with the first half of the book, which covers the initial discoveries of quantum theory, nuclear structure, radioactive isotopes, leading to the strange mysterious isotope of Uranium, U-235, which lies right at the boundary between stability and instability and ultimately makes everything else in the story possible. Along the way in that first half of the book he intersperses telling world events. The chapter on the first world war is harrowing, and he skillfully draws parallels (among other things) between the adoption of gas warfare in the first world war and nuclear weapons in the second. The story of the rise of fascism in Europe is chilling, especially as one parallel after another seems to pop up in modern-day news reports on at least a monthly basis. (Rhodes wrote the book in the '80's, and probably never realized just how contemporary it would eventually seem.)

Most of what's in Rhodes's book won't be in Nolan's movie, like how Fermi had to use the acceptance of his Nobel prize as a ruse for him and his Jewish wife to escape Italy just before another wave of anti-Jewish laws would have sent her to prison or worse; or how they needed conducting metals to build solenoids for isotope separation but couldn't get any copper in the middle of the war, so they literally went to Fort Knox and borrowed over 300 million dollars worth of silver to make solenoids, and returned it all, down to the last ounce, once the war was over; or how Leo Szilard talked his friend Einstein into signing the fateful letter to Roosevelt that eventually led to the beginning of the Manhattan project (Einstein didn't actually write the letter, because he didn't feel he knew enough about nuclear physics, but he knew Szilard well enough, and knew enough about the importance of the research to attach his name to it anyway despite his passionate and life-long stance as a pacifist). If I had any pull at all in Hollywood, I'd be banging on every studio's door saying they needed to make a 20-episode series out of this story.

There's also an extraordinary opera, "Doctor Atomic," by John Adams, which pulls its libretto almost entirely from historical documents. If you're interested in this kind of thing, find a full performance. I doubt there are any stagings coming up before the film opens but it's worth your while if you can find one. If not, find the video or audio recording and listen to it start to finish, not in bits and pieces. If you're paying attention, it'll have a big effect on you. I saw the premiere staging in San Francisco sometime around 2005, and a more recent staging by the Santa Fe opera a few years ago. It's a visceral, punishing reenactment of the exhaustion, fear, and overall constant inescapable suffocating tension in the weeks and days before the Trinity test.

As for the production, all I know is that Cillian Murphy looks a hell of a lot like Oppie, so well-done there. I can definitely imagine Matt Damon playing general Groves, though I hope they had him put on some weight, as his main bit of comedy was annoyance at the fact that he was so much fatter than the chain-smoking physicists buzzing all around him.

To whatever extent he gets into the science, I imagine that'll all be presented in a really solid way. Bird and Sherwin know what they're talking about, and Nolan has good connections, through the production of Interstellar, with a bunch of great physicists who know important it is to get a story like this right.

  

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stravinskian
Member since Feb 24th 2003
12500 posts
Thu Jul-21-22 01:12 PM

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3. "The opening paragraph of Rhodes's book..."
In response to Reply # 2


          


is probably representative of the mixture of cold contemplation and unfathomable violence that this story provides. It's rare that we can document so precisely the moment when a historically important idea arises, but in the case of nuclear fission (both controlled, for energy, and uncontrolled, for war), the simple key idea (the slow-neutron chain reaction) arrived for a single person at a very specific moment (in the middle of an extremely inconvenient historical era!). It's one of my favorite paragraphs, though I'm admittedly a sucker for this kind of melodramatic realism.

"In London, where Southampton Row passes Russell Square, across from the British Museum in Bloomsbury, Leo Szilard waited irritably one gray Depression morning for the stoplight to change. A trace of rain had fallen during the night; Tuesday, September 12, 1933, dawned cool, humid, and dull. Drizzling rain would begin again in early afternoon. When Szilard told the story later he never mentioned his destination that morning. He may have had none; he often walked to think. In any case another destination intervened. The stoplight changed to green. Szilard stepped off the curb. As he crossed the street time cracked open before him and he saw a way to the future, death into the world and all our woe, the shape of things to come."

  

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bwood
Member since Apr 03rd 2006
8259 posts
Fri Jul-22-22 04:05 PM

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4. "Thanks for this b."
In response to Reply # 3


  

          

Very enlightening. Still skeptical about why this needs to have a $100 million dollar budget and needs to be shot on IMAX film.

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America from 9:00 on: https://youtu.be/GUwLCQU10KQ

  

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stravinskian
Member since Feb 24th 2003
12500 posts
Sat Jul-23-22 07:06 PM

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10. "Yeah, that I couldn't tell you, other than it's Nolan. "
In response to Reply # 4


          

The obvious big-dollar line-item would be the mushroom cloud budget. They will most definitely include a reenactment of the Trinity test, and likely the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (and possibly the non-nuclear attack on Tokyo). These will be a different variety of nuclear explosion than we've seen in movies before, since the Trinity test really was a controlled experiment, analyzed in real time a thousand different ways. Knowing Nolan, he was probably disappointed that he couldn't arrange filming access to a real nuclear test, but I guess even Universal can't buy off the IAEA. At any rate, it'll take some spectacular effects work for them to do justice to nuclear explosions.

But other than that, it's a pretty standard-issue war-era historical drama, as far as filming logistics go. From friends at Los Alamos, I do know that they've done a great deal of on-location filming there and probably a few other places. Los Alamos is a bustling little town nowadays, and in the Manhattan Project days it was extremely remote. So it probably wasn't easy to revert it to something historically convincing.

It sounds like they have a huge cast, which makes sense given the huge variety of people who played important roles in this story. So that's probably a part of it.

It occurs to me that they might be covering a long span of time, as well. Oppenheimer had entanglements with progressive politics and (at times) the Communist party, going all the way back to his grad school days. And late in his life these entanglements came back to him in very ugly ways (there's even a ready-made villain, but I'll save the spoiler). Personally I think that story, while profound and fascinating in itself, is a side-story compared to the Manhattan Project, but it's easy to get across dramatically, so I bet they'll put some effort into covering it.

  

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Nodima
Member since Jul 30th 2008
14941 posts
Sat Jul-23-22 03:00 AM

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5. "Beam me up Daddy."
In response to Reply # 2
Sat Jul-23-22 03:04 AM by Nodima

  

          

I'm clearly far less knowledgeable in the hows and whys of this but I think you nailed why I'm, as a relative layman, pretty excited for this.


If everything goes right, this is a return to the Following/Memento/Prestige era of Nolan married to everything he's learned (or mistakes he can recognize he made) from Interstellar and Dunkirk.


It's an incredible gamble both for him and the studio and I can't wait to see what happens, because it really does feel like he's been building towards an idea, let alone story, like this from the beginning.


I'm the guy that somehow saw Following before I saw Memento. And I see this one quote from his obvious director surrogate, protagonist Alex Cobb (even that surname, y'know?), in everything he's done since: "You take it away to show them what they had."


I'm so jazzed for this and I think Nolan has been on a pretty explicit downhill jam since Dark Knight (edit/sidebar: I don't mean to throw any shade at Dunkirk, though. I just think it, in a way Top Gun: Maverick has only matched, so specifically needs a theater environment to convey its stakes that I get why home audiences could be ambivalent).


Whether he sticks the landing on his interpretation or presentation of this story, it feels so tailor made for him to take a multi-million dollar crack at.

~~~~~~~~~
"This is the streets, and I am the trap." � Jay Bilas
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/archive/contributor/517
Hip Hop Handbook: http://tinyurl.com/ll4kzz

  

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bwood
Member since Apr 03rd 2006
8259 posts
Sat Jul-23-22 05:32 AM

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6. "RE: Beam me up Daddy."
In response to Reply # 5


  

          

On a downhill since the second Batman movie? What about Inception?!

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America from 9:00 on: https://youtu.be/GUwLCQU10KQ

  

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Nodima
Member since Jul 30th 2008
14941 posts
Sat Jul-23-22 06:45 AM

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7. "Don’t try to understand it. Feel it."
In response to Reply # 6


  

          

(Oops.)


~~~~~~~~~
"This is the streets, and I am the trap." � Jay Bilas
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/archive/contributor/517
Hip Hop Handbook: http://tinyurl.com/ll4kzz

  

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bwood
Member since Apr 03rd 2006
8259 posts
Sat Jul-23-22 07:41 AM

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8. "RE: Don’t try to understand it. Feel it."
In response to Reply # 7


  

          

That's Tenet which sucks ass.

------------------------------------------
America from 9:00 on: https://youtu.be/GUwLCQU10KQ

  

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bwood
Member since Apr 03rd 2006
8259 posts
Sat Jul-23-22 06:00 PM

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9. "The teaser for this W-I-L-D "
In response to Reply # 0


  

          

Now I see why this got the budget it did.

------------------------------------------
America from 9:00 on: https://youtu.be/GUwLCQU10KQ

  

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