‘Brilliant, frightening, riveting’: ‘Oppenheimer’ leaves reviewers enthralled; Nolan’s explosive epic scores 96% on Rotten Tomatoes

The legendary theoretical physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, who is the central figure of an exciting new film by Christopher Nolan, became immortalized for his iconic words inspired by Lord Vishnu from the Bhagavad Gita when reflecting on the historic Trinity test of 1945. This groundbreaking test marked the birth of the world’s very first atomic bombs, forever leaving Oppenheimer burdened with a profound sense of responsibility.

According to the esteemed biographers Kai Bird and Martin J Sherwin, Oppenheimer, fueled by his enthusiasm, hailed the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. In a fascinating 1995 report from The Atlantic, it is revealed that the room overflowed with scientists and technicians who wholeheartedly expressed their support through joyful whistling, jubilant cheering, and spirited foot-stomping. While it is unfortunate that the bomb was not prepared in time for use in Germany, Oppenheimer added immense value by providing wise counsel to the military on the optimal deployment of the warheads. “Prioritize visual sighting and avoid cloudy or overcast conditions when dropping the bomb. Emphasize the importance of visual sighting rather than relying on radar. Naturally, we must avoid deploying the bomb in rainy or foggy weather. The optimum detonation height has been carefully determined. Any deviation from this precise figure would compromise the impact on the target,” he sagely recommended.

But he had a change of heart only a month later.

In October, Oppenheimer had a meeting with President Harry S Truman, and humbly admitted, “Mr. President, I take responsibility for the consequences of my actions.” Truman responded with reassurance, “Leave the burden to me, I will handle it.” As author Paul Ham revealed in Hiroshima Nagasaki: The Real Story of the Atomic Bombings and Their Aftermath, Truman politely asked Oppenheimer to step out of the Oval Office, while The Atlantic described the President as being ‘unimpressed by his self-pitying behavior’. According to an article by Steven Shapin published in the London Review of Books in 2000, President Truman even advised his colleagues, “Let’s not entertain such sentiments again.” Some of Oppenheimer’s biographers drew parallels between this episode and the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the Gita, overlooking Truman’s critical remarks.

According to the paper “The Gita of J Robert Oppenheimer” by James A Hijiya, Krishna provides Arjuna with three compelling reasons to stand firm in his duty. Krishna enlightens Arjuna that as a soldier, he must fight; that it is Krishna, not Arjuna, who will determine the fates of those involved; and that Arjuna should disengage himself from the consequences of his actions, focusing solely on the devotion to Krishna. As Arjuna begins to comprehend this insight, Krishna declares, “I am the embodiment of death, tasked with destruction in the present moment.”

Oppenheimer, fully conscious of the immense impact he had made, wholeheartedly embraced his role in the operation, displaying a remarkable sense of acceptance. In November 1945, he compellingly conveyed his perspective to his comrades at Los Alamos. He acknowledged, “As scientists, we have an extraordinary responsibility to harness this formidable power… Embracing this responsibility means recognizing the remarkable potential of granting humanity the ability to wield the reins of the world, enabling it to chart its course and confront challenges guided by its own wisdom and values.”

After being shut down by Truman, Oppenheimer enthusiastically devoted his life to the regulation of nuclear power. It is with great anticipation that we will witness his inspiring journey portrayed by the talented actor Cillian Murphy in the upcoming film, set to be released in theaters this Friday. We can also look forward to the exceptional performance of Oscar-winner Gary Oldman, who, having previously collaborated with Nolan on the Dark Knight trilogy, portrays the role of Truman.

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