Christopher Nolan is having a blast on the set of Oppenheimer. Literally and figuratively.
One of the leading filmmakers of 21st century, Christopher Nolan, who is known for his adamant inclination toward authenticity over special effects for his films, recently revealed that he orchestrated a real nuclear weapon explosion devoid of any CGI for a scene in his upcoming film Oppenheimer starring the Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy and Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr.
The British-American director has resorted to such practical effects in his other projects as well with one of the most famous instances of the same being from his 2020 film titled Tenet, starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson, wherein he blew up a real Boeing 747. So, it’s not something out of the blue for him to have set up a real nuclear detonation in Oppenheimer, but it is certainly fascinating to see how he organized the whole thing.
Christopher Nolan Generated A Nuclear Explosion for Oppenheimer
Christopher Nolan seems to have gone above and beyond for his upcoming war film based on the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man behind the creation of the atomic bomb who was also a prominent entity in the Manhattan Project, as the filmmaker designed an actual nuclear weapon explosion without utilizing any CGI.
Talking to Total Film magazine about the movie, Nolan explained how re-creating the first-ever real-life nuclear explosion without the help of any special effects was “a huge challenge to take on.” Of course, nobody would expect blowing up things to be an easy feat either.
“I think recreating the Trinity test [the first nuclear weapon detonation, in New Mexico] without the use of computer graphics was a huge challenge to take on. Andrew Jackson — my visual effects supervisor, I got him on board early on — was looking at how we could do a lot of the visual elements of the film practically, from representing quantum dynamics and quantum physics to the Trinity test itself, to recreating, with my team, Los Alamos up on a mesa in New Mexico in extraordinary weather, a lot of which was needed for the film, in terms of the very harsh conditions out there — there were huge practical challenges.”
Nolan explained how the “subjectivity” of this story for him was of a major significance which is why he wanted to do justice to it. His perspective with regard to filming it was to try and “view these events through Oppenheimer’s eyes,” and that is exactly what he wanted to achieve with the application of such practical effects instead of going ahead with VFX.
Oppenheimer is One of the “Most Challenging” Films of Christopher Nolan
Nolan, who is renowned for his extraordinary filmmaking and has been at the helm of various Oscar-winning movies including Dunkirk (2017), Interstellar (2014), Inception (2010), to name a few, remarked how Oppenheimer has been one of his “most challenging projects” till date.
“It’s a story of immense scope and scale, and one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever taken on in terms of the scale of it, and in terms of encountering the breadth of Oppenheimer’s story. There were big, logistical challenges, big practical challenges.”
Luckily though, the award-winning director also had an extremely supportive crew by his side who gave their best at what they were required to, thereby making things a little easier for Nolan to navigate.
“But I had an extraordinary crew, and they really stepped up. It will be a while before we’re finished. But certainly as I watch the results come in, and as I’m putting the film together, I’m thrilled with what my team has been able to achieve.”
The movie is led by Cillian Murphy as the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer alongside Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, and Matt Damon, with Nolan overlooking the direction and production besides Emma Thomas and Charles Roven.
Oppenheimer will hit theatres on July 21, 2023.