Early Screenings of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ Leave Audiences Devastated


Christopher Nolan, the 52-year-old director of the upcoming blockbuster about J. Robert Oppenheimer, believes that the film is darker than his previous projects.

“It is an intense experience. Because it’s an intense story, I showed it to a filmmaker recently, who said it’s kind of a horror movie. I don’t disagree,” Nolan says in an interview with Wired magazine.

“It’s interesting that you used the word nihilism earlier. Because I don’t think I’d quite managed to put my finger on it. But as I started to finish the film, I started to feel this color that’s not in my other films, just darkness. It’s there. The film fights against that,” he adds.

Christopher Nolan
Christopher Nolan / Photo Credit: Denis Makarenko

Nolan Describes Early Reactions to Oppenheimer

Nolan revealed that early screenings of his upcoming film Oppenheimer, which stars Cillian Murphy, Robert Downey Jr., and Florence Pugh, have profoundly impacted audiences.

“Some people leave the movie absolutely devastated. They can’t speak. I mean, there’s an element of fear that’s there in the history and there in the underpinnings,” Nolan shares.

“But the love of the characters, the love of the relationships, is as strong as I’ve ever done,” he adds.

Nolan confessed that he was “relieved” to have completed the movie as it had left him emotionally drained.

“I was relieved to be finished with it, actually,” Nolan states. “But I enjoy watching the film tremendously. I think you’ll understand when you see the film. It’s a complicated set of feelings to be entertained by awful things, you know? Which is where the horror dimension comes in.”

The Ultimate Blockbuster

Christopher Nolan has also called Oppenheimer the ultimate blockbuster, as the stakes in the movie are so high, revolving around the survival of the world.

In an interview with Empire magazine, Nolan says, “The ultimate stakes of any big blockbuster is the survival of the world. And that’s what this story is. I know of no story with higher stakes than Oppenheimer’s story. That’s just the truth of it.”

“It’s tricky using a word like entertainment when you’re talking about something so serious, but entertainment in movies takes many forms,” he adds. “This is such an involving, compelling tale that we had the privilege of telling.”

Oppenheimer‘s Biggest Challenge 

Nolan faced a monumental challenge while making the film: capturing the recreation of Oppenheimer’s bomb Trinity test in the New Mexico desert, all without relying on CGI.

“I mean, I’ve done a lot of explosions in a lot of films. But there is something very unique and particular about being out in a desert in the middle of the night with a big cast, and really just doing some enormous explosions and capturing that,” Nolan reveals.

“You couldn’t help but come back to this moment when they were doing this on the ultimate scale, that in the back of their minds, they knew there was this possibility that they would set fire to the atmosphere. It was pretty amazing to engage in that kind of tension,” he adds.

Star Cillian Murphy Urges Fans to See the Movie on the Biggest Screen Possible

Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy urges movie fans to check out the movie on release weekend on the biggest screen possible as the film is releasing in IMAX.

“I think it’s a truly essential cinematic experience. And I know that’s what I’m supposed to say – that’s the studio line,” Murphy says to Empire. “But you have to see this in the cinema on the biggest f screen possible. There are moments in it that will blow people’s lids off.”

Oppenheimer releases on July 21, 2023.


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