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OPPENHEIMER (Summer, 2023)
OPPENHEIMER 2023 • R • 3h
Starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, and Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Based on Oppenheimer, American Prometheus by Kai Bird & Martin
Sherwin
3
OPPENHEIMER
• Oscar Best Picture
• Oscar Best Actor (Cillian Murphy)
• Oscar Best Directing (Christopher Nolan)
• Oscar Best Supporting (Roberty Downey Jr)
• Golden Globe Best Picture
• Golden Globe Best Directing
• Golden Globe Best Actor
• Golden Globe Best Original Score
4
OPPENHEIMER
1. Historical Background
2. Film Synopsis
3. Filmography
4. Ethical Questions
5
John Dalton’s
Model of the Atom
1917
Earnest Rutherford
Claimed we can split the atom
8
1932 Cockroft & Walton Split an Atom
1939
Albert Einstein
Wrote warned President Roosevelt
Hitler trying to build an Atomic Bomb
10
1942
Gen. Leslie Groves
Appointed to lead the
Manhattan Project
11
1942
Groves Appointed
Julius Robert Oppenheimer
To lead the Manhattan Project
12
Julius Robert Oppenheimer
1904 - 1967
Jewish-American Theoretical Physicist
Born in New York City
BA in Chemistry from Harvard
13
Julius Robert Oppenheimer
PhD University of Gottingen in Germany
Saw the rise of anti-Semitism
and the threat of Nazi Germany.
14
1942 - 1945
Built the
Los Alamos Laboratories
In New Mexico
15
July 16, 1945
Detonated first Atomic Bomb
Trinity Nuclear Site
20 kilotons of TNT
16
Aug. 6 & 9, 1945
Hiroshima & Nagasaki
80,000 Japanese killed
Japan surrendered August 15
17
Nov, 1948
Oppenheimer cover of TIME
Hailed as National Hero
https://content.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19540614,00.html
June 29, 1954
Oppenheimer’s Security Clearance Revoked
Synopsis
1. Can we build a bomb?
2. Let’s build a bomb!
3. Should we have built a bomb?
23
Carefree Student
Attended communist meetings
Dated a Jean Tatlock a
Communist
Supported Teachers Union
25
Niels Bohr
Travels to Germany and meets
Bohr
Realizes the atom can be split.
Becomes intoxicated with nuclear
energy and the power it has
26
Leslie Groves
WW II Starts
Leslie Groves meets
Oppenheimer, He knows they
want to build a bomb
He agrees to do it.
He wants to stop the Nazis.
27
Katharine Puening
Meets Katharine (who is in a
loveless marriage). She leaves her
husband for him and they move to
Los Alamos
29
Build a Bomb
Little Boy — Uranium Bomb
Big Boy — Plutonium Bomb
He rejects Fusion bomb
30
16 July 1945 5:00 AM • Detonation of “the Gadget” at Trinity Site
Decide Hiroshima
Oppenheimer is determined to use
the bomb.
33
Decide Hiroshima
1. Drop it on Japan to show that
we have it and will use it.
2. Drop it on a populated city to
show its destructiveness.
3. Drop it on a second city to show
that we have more of them.
34
Experiences Regret
Begins to realize the implications
of the US having an Atomic Bomb
35
Explains decision
He articulates doctrine of
deterrence.
Mutually Assured Destruction
(MAD)
36
Accused being
Communist
Forced to defend his beliefs
And prove he is not a Communist
Acquitted, but loses his clearance.
37
American Prometheus
Realizes he is like Prometheus
Final scene, he tells Einstein he
started a chain reaction that will
destroy the world
38
Filmography
1. Oppenheimer’s Character — Ages from a careless young scientist to a
driven Middle Age adult to a regretful old man.
41
Oppenheimer as a carefree college student
Oppenheimer as driven scientist on a mission
Oppenheimer as an old man reflecting on his work
Filmography
1. Oppenheimer’s Character
2. Oppenheimer’s Contradictions — He wildly swings between opposite
poles.
45
Jean Tatlock Oppenheimer Katherine Oppenheimer
Oppenheimer’s Conflicting Relationships
Oppenheimer’s Conflicting Political Ideologies
Friends, Family, & Associates
Communists.
Refused to join party
Repudiated Communism
Oppenheimer’s Conflicting View of the Bomb
Driven to build the bomb
Defended using it
Pushed for Nuclear Arsenal
Regretted developing the bomb
Racked with guilt
Wrestled with responsibility
Filmography
1. Oppenheimer’s Character
2. Oppenheimer’s Contradictions
3. Fire of Prometheus — Oppenheimer brought down fire from the gods, and
now it spreads out of control.
49
Opening Scene
Ending Scene
Filmography
1. Oppenheimer’s Character
2. Oppenheimer’s Contradictions
3. Fire of Prometheus
4. Relativity of Time & Space — Switches between past and future, between
huge sprawling spaces and tiny government rooms, between color &
black/white
52
Filmography
1. Oppenheimer’s Character
2. Oppenheimer’s Contradictions
3. Fire of Prometheus
4. Relativity of Time & Space
5. Carried Away by the Sites & Sounds of Science —The sites & sounds of
atoms, photons, and energy dancing to orchestral music carry you away into
another world.
54
Niels Bohr asks the young Oppenheimer, “Mathematics is like sheet music. Can you hear the music?”
Ethical Questions
1. Prometheus — What are the unintended consequences of scientific
discovery, and how can we exercise responsibility?
58
1. Prometheus
• Artificial Intelligence?
• Facial Recognition Software?
• Genetic Engineering?
• What does Scripture say about scientific discovery & human responsibility.
59
Ethical Questions
1. Prometheus
2. Hiroshima — Should we have dropped the bomb?
60
2. Hiroshima
• The reasons we used the bomb were…
• What is Collateral Damage?
• Were Hiroshimal, Nagasaki (& Dresden & Tokyo) Collateral Damage?
• Were there alternatives to dropping the bomb?
Could we have saved 100,000 soldiers another way?
Could we have demonstrated the bomb?
Were the Japanese ready to surrender?
• What does the Bible say about Collateral Damage?
61
Ethical Questions
1. Prometheus
2. Hiroshima
3. Dehumanization — In our philosophical & theological discussions do we
sometimes forget the human implications? How can we avoid that pitfall?
62
Ethical Questions
1. Prometheus
2. Hiroshima
3. Dehumanization
4. The Red Scare — Should we protect & control our nation's scientific
knowledge? If so, what are the ethical limits on national security?
63
Ethical Questions
1. Prometheus
2. Hiroshima
3. Dehumanization
4. The Red Scare
5. M.A.D. — Was (is) the doctrine of mutually assured destruction an ethical
deterrent to nuclear war?
64
Ethical Questions
1. Prometheus — What are the unintended consequences of scientific
discovery, and how can we exercise responsibility?
2. Hiroshima — Should we have dropped the bomb?
3. Dehumanization — Can our academic approach to philosophy and theology
lead to dehumanized discourse? And if so, how can we avoid the pitfalls?
4. The Red Scare — Should we guard and control our society’s scientific
knowledge, and if so, what are the ethical limits on national security?
5. M.A.D. — Was (is) the doctrine of mutually assured destruction an ethical
deterrent to nuclear war?
65

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Oppenheimer Film Discussion for Philosophy and Film