I was not sold on the trailer. The subject matter does not appeal to me. I was a teenager in the 1980’s. I grew up living with the serious threat of nuclear war. How hiding under a table will supposedly save you from the initial blast. How ridiculous this must sound now but governments need their people to stay calm and the British are good at that. For me, I was terrified. I didn’t know how I would survive. Watching Threads (the film) impacted the threat on me even more. I lived my life rather recklessly as a teenager because as Heaven 17 so perfectly state in their song ‘Lets all make a bomb’ we should celebrate and vaporise. Actually, their words from the song fit the story of Oppenheimer well:
Take one hundred scientists or more Place in a room and lock the door Let them confer for half their lives Unlock the door, go in and see What they have made for you and me A brand new toy to idolize
But let’s talk about the film. After hearing good things, I wanted to see for myself. Three hours is a long commitment to a film but you would not know its that long. It feels fast paced. I came away feeling educated. I had not studies physics since I was 14 so I had a lot to catch up with. I had no idea who Oppenheimer was. It was not taught in nice schools in the green counties of England. Oppenheimer was indeed brilliant. The casting is brilliant too. Cillian Murphy is mesmerising portraying Oppenheimer as bright with his mind is always on the go and he is thinking things not many other mortals think. I enjoyed the relationship with him and Albert Einstein played by Tom Conti. Tom’s best role since Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence in my opinion. I also enjoyed Matt Damon who is deserving of such a significant role and has proven his worth to Hollywood although to me Dogma will always be my favourite film. There are so many actors that I like in this film. Emily Blunt as Kitty is powerful. Emily gives voice to Kitty at a time when women were not supposed to have opinions. Kenneth Branagh deserves a bigger role for such a fine actor, but still makes impact. Rami Malek also gives a great performance; a million miles away from Freddie Mercury. Gary Oldman is Truman and is so clearly Truman that I didn’t realise it was Gary; how perfect he plays this role. But more than all of that, it’s the transformation of Robert Downey Jr into Strauss that is the most noticeable. And he fools us all with his befriending of Oppenheimer.
The film jumps forward and backwards. There are three time lines and it’s hard to follow, alternating between Oppenheimer's story from Cambridge to Los Alamos, his security hearing in 1954, and Strauss' confirmation hearing in 1959. Maybe that is why one timeline is in black and white which is curious as to why this has been done. Dates would have made it much easier to follow.
The use of sound and silence along with lighting will impact your senses. It does feel as loud and as quiet as we imagine a nuclear bomb experience would. There are the odd line in the film that will make you smile. But don’t get me wrong. This is a serious film covering a very serious topic.
As an empath and pacifist, I do not like war or understand its need. I cried in the cinema for all those lives lost. Innocents that were just going about their daily life when life was so rudely taken from them. I am sure there will be many Oscars for almost everyone in this film. And deserved for there is some fabulous acting on screen. But it still doesn’t sit comfortably with me that we would reward a film of this topic. I worry that the madmen in the world will remember that we have these bombs at their disposal. Yes, we don’t talk about it every day – but the scars of growing up in the 1908’s lives on inside of me. So go and see it but I cannot say ‘enjoy the film’.