What is ‘Oppenheimer’ about? The true story behind Christopher Nolan’s new thriller

Oppenheimer in a hat in 'Oppenheimer'
via Universal Pictures

Christopher Nolan is used to blowing minds when he releases a new film, but his upcoming release, Oppenheimer, is going to consist of explosions of a different sort. Oppenheimer is set to release on July 21, 2023, and it will star Cillian Murphy as the titular character J. Robert Oppenheimer. In addition to Murphy, the film also stars Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Jack Quad, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman, and many more. 

What is Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer about?

Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer in 'Oppenheimer'
via Universal Pictures

Oppenheimer is a biographical film that will tell the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role with the Manhattan Project, an American operation, supported by both the United Kingdom and Canada, to develop nuclear weapons during World War II. Oppenheimer, who died in 1967, was a theoretical physicist, whose contributions directly led to the first successful test of a nuclear bomb. 

The film is a true story and it is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, which was released in 2005. The book is a biography of Oppenheimer, which is not only limited to his time with the Manhattan Project. It is likely that Oppenheimer will document his life before and after the first “Trinity” test, and the detonations of “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” on Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945. 

If the trailer is anything to go by, the film will deal with the effects of Oppenheimer’s contributions on his life, and the general gravity of potentially having millions of deaths on his hands because of the sheer devastation nuclear weapons can cause. Roughly 200,000 people perished in Japan because of the detonations in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and the threat of devastation that large has impacted the last 75 years of warfare.

The film might also touch upon Oppenheimer’s personal life, and how both his wife Katherine Oppenheimer (Emily Blunt) and his brother Frank Oppenheimer (Dylan Arnold) were members of the Communist Party. If you want more of a taste of the events that will be depicted in Nolan’s new film, feel free to go to your local bookstore or library and read American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Catch Oppenheimer when it explodes into theaters on July 21, 2023.