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Einstein and the Bomb Adds Context That Oppenheimer Left Out


Summary

  • Oppenheimer
    showcases Einstein’s impact, while
    Einstein and the Bomb
    delves into his moral complexities.
  • Einstein served as a crucial moral compass for Oppenheimer, his letter to President Roosevelt a pivotal moment in history.
  • Einstein and the Bomb
    reveals how Einstein’s theories led to atomic weapon development, grappling with consequences.



Within the three-hour runtime of director Christopher Nolan’s award-winning 2023 biographical epic called Oppenheimer, the audience not only learns all about the intricate makeup of the man who was deemed the father of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, but also the psychological torment that comes with building such a disastrous power and all those that entered his social circle during this exhilarating but devastating time.

With the iconic yet infamous physicist being brought to life in the film by Irish actor Cillian Murphy, in one of his best performances, other real-life names are portrayed like the main character’s wife Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, Manhattan Project head Richard Groves, and AEC member Lewis Strauss. While the actors and actresses who step into these roles (Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, and Robert Downey Jr, respectively) have ample opportunity to present many sides of their character, there is actually one very historically familiar name featured in this movie that surprisingly comes and goes – the developer behind the theory of relativity, Albert Einstein. Now, the scientist is back in the spotlight with a project centered on him on Netflix, titled Einstein and the Bomb.



Albert Einstein in Oppenheimer and Einstein and the Bomb

Einstein, the world-renowned scientist played by Scottish actor Tom Conti (Shirley Valentine, Reuben, Reuben) in Oppenheimer, remained more of a vague figure of guidance for our main character throughout the film. While depicted sufficiently within the scope of the movie, Nolan would design him in the screenplay to be someone past his prime, only able to help Murphy’s Oppenheimer with warnings of consequence regarding this bomb that he was about to show off to the entire world.


Historians, chroniclers, and the like can be easily satisfied with the one off-handed, single sentence that Einstein makes midway through the drama, but for those who are not savvy about the contextual history of nuclear weapons, Einstein’s cameo-like appearances are something of a vanishing act. Believe it or not, Netflix must have caught onto this massively unfulfilled inquiry and released what some would consider a companion piece to Nolan’s dramatization – Einstein and the Bomb.

Releasing on Feb. 16, this hour and 16-minute documentary immensely helps those curious about how Einstein came to be a figure in Oppenheimer’s life and vice versa. The Anthony Philipson-directed work also does a great job at detailing the German-born scientist’s travels and how that ties into Hitler’s growing regime at the time. As great as Nolan’s film turned out to be, Einstein and the Bomb quickly deconstructs the scientist, rebuilding the person back into a morally flawed man in a very short time. As depicted in the theatrical retelling, the two aforementioned figures did not meet many times, but Einstein built the foundation that Oppenheimer and his colleagues could continue.


Albert Einstein’s Ties to Germany

Einstein’s growing theory of relativity was not only critiqued in fascist Germany but verbally ripped up and discarded. Seeing a real threat in the reaction, he sought refuge in a small hut on farmland in rural England. Once he was found and invited to speak at conferences, his presence was wanted in the US – specifically by Princeton University.

Even though this is not their first meeting place in real life, this is where Einstein and Oppenheimer spend their scenes together in Nolan’s work. The greatest lines in this film are only possible because of Einstein’s daring escape from Germany during that time. Because of runtime issues or decisions pertaining to the story, viewers will not see this important backstory in the 2023 movie.


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In Oppenheimer, Einstein has a rather stark view of the US government. While Strauss thought they were talking about him over by the lake, the two scientific minds were quickly taking the few moments they had to share their similar but brutal career experiences. Even though Einstein was never directly involved with anything Oppenheimer ever built, director Nolan decides to skim over the crucial event that brought the same regret to Einstein as it did to Oppenheimer – Einstein’s letter to President Roosevelt in the late 30s. Thinking that Germany was well on its way to building an atomic weapon, he pleaded with the president that now was the time to get started on our own.


Oppenheimer and Einstein Are Surrounded by Guilt

Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer

5/5

Release Date
July 21, 2023

Cast
Cillian Murphy , Matt Damon , Robert Downey Jr. , Emily Blunt , Florence Pugh , Gary Oldman , Josh Hartnett , Jack Quaid , Kenneth Branagh , Rami Malek , Alex Wolff , Matthew Modine

Studio
Universal Pictures, Atlas Entertainment, Syncopy

Read Our Review

Einstein and the Bomb reveals that only after the American forces invaded German bases in WWII was it made clear through classified documents that Hitler’s massive weapon plans actually failed. Therefore, the letter that Einstein sent out turned into the heaviest of burdens since his critics and the Japanese all pointed the finger at him for the mass number of those now dead. Oppenheimer conveys this guilt only through dialogue, while the documentary plays out a real-life event when a journalist by the name of Katsu Hara confronts the scientist, wanting to know how and why such an attack commenced.


Nolan’s film may be an in-depth, entertaining look at one of the most dangerous minds (and inventions) of the 20th century, but Einstein and the Bomb quite vividly fills in the blanks about how Albert Einstein was wrapped up in the same predicament. In theory, he was a pacifist, but his findings were quickly implemented to be used in wartime nonetheless. Einstein and the Bomb is now available for streaming on Netflix. Oppenheimer is streaming on Peacock.



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