‘Dunkirk’ Director’s Next Movie Will Tell the World War II Story of the Atomic Bomb

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atomic bomb test
Baker Day bomb test on Bikini Atoll on July 25,1946 (National Archives)

Christopher Nolan, best known for directing the Batman “Dark Knight” trilogy and the classic World War II movie “Dunkirk,” is planning to make his next movie about scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and the race to develop the atomic bomb during World War II.

Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist and University of California Berkeley professor recruited by the U.S. government in 1942 to lead the research that led to the development of the atomic bomb.

Gen. Leslie Groves was the military man in charge of the Manhattan Project, the program charged with making this theoretical weapon a reality. Groves named Oppenheimer head of the research team, which many saw as a surprising choice. The physicist was known for his left-wing political views, and the young scientist would be charged with overseeing a team loaded with more experienced Nobel Prize winners.

“Oppy” proved up to the challenge as the team set up shop in remote Los Alamos, New Mexico. The team raced to complete its work and finally set off a test bomb in July 1945, not knowing for sure whether the detonation would set off a chain reaction that might destroy the planet.

As their work progressed, Oppenheimer and many of the scientists on his team began to question whether what they were doing was morally defensible. Oppenheimer was wracked with guilt after President Truman decided to drop bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to speed the end of the war.

Nolan’s fans will recognize why he’s so interested in making this movie. A gifted individual who’s operating on the fringes of mainstream society finds himself forced to make difficult choices that leave him with a tinge of regret. Maybe the Oppenheimer we’ll see in the movie will have more than a little in common with Bruce Wayne.

The other big news for movie fans is that Nolan will be making the movie for Universal Pictures, the studio that had such great success with director Sam Mendes’ World War I movie “1917.” Nolan previously had enjoyed a decades-long collaboration with Warner Bros., but the studio’s botched release of his 2020 movie “Tenet” and its decision to stream all 2021 movies on HBO Max the same day they’re released in theaters soured him on working with the studio’s current management.

Filming is scheduled for early 2022, so look for this one to release in 2023.

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