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  • Writer's pictureSwati Bhat

Christopher Nolan Unveils 'Oppenheimer' Footage to Massive Applause at CinemaCon

On Wednesday, Christopher Nolan addressed the stage at CinemaCon to reveal new footage from "Oppenheimer," his epic look at the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American theoretical physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb.

Swati Bhat

Courtesy Universal Pictures

Nolan, a staunch supporter of the big screen and a critic of streaming, took the stage to rousing ovation from the audience of movie theatre owners. "I don't know of any more dramatic tale with higher stakes," Nolan remarked of his current work.

And boy, did the film seem tense as Oppenheimer develops a bomb with the potential to cause unimaginable loss of life and destruction. There were images of the physicist's team working on top-secret bomb-making projects, but the film also jumps ahead in time to a point where Russia has developed its atomic technology, raising suspicions of espionage at Los Alamos. Nolan stated that the protagonist of the film made decisions that are still felt today.

"Like it or not, J. Robert Oppenheimer is the most important person who ever lived," Nolan remarked, adding, "He made the world we live in, for better or worse." "You have to see his story to believe it."

The film, which will be released by Universal on July 21, is one of the most ambitious big studio summer releases in recent years. It's a season normally devoted for escapism and superhero movies, but "Oppenheimer" deals with some serious issues, not to mention a scientific breakthrough that changed the course of history. As the chief of the Los Alamos Laboratory, Oppenheimer oversaw the Manhattan Project before becoming a sceptic of weapons of mass devastation.

"His story is both a dream and a nightmare," said Nolan.

The film was shot in 70mm using Imax cameras, and Nolan's trailer alternated between smokey black-and-white and colour with immaculate production design. Cillian Murphy, a gaunt-looking, fedora-wearing man, is a dead ringer for Oppenheimer, with the haunting air of a man who unleashed an incredible weapon, a destroyer of worlds. However, when the Manhattan Project was launched during World War II, control of civilization was in jeopardy.

"I'm not sure we can be trusted with such a weapon." But I know the Nazis can't," Oppenheimer says of Murphy. Murphy has previously appeared in Nolan films such as "Dunkirk," "Inception," and "Batman Begins."

Nolan is one of Hollywood's most acclaimed and commercially successful directors, having directed the "Dark Knight" trilogy, as well as "Inception" and "Dunkirk." "Tenet," his most recent film, was released during the height of the pandemic and struggled to connect with COVID-averse audiences. "Oppenheimer" was written by Nolan and co-produced by him.

Universal also showcased "Wicked," "Migration," and the "Fast and Furious" franchise during its CinemaCon presentation. The studio is riding high on the success of "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," which is expected to top $1 billion in the coming days.


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