Oppenheimer: Ecstasy and fascination of a masterpiece that goes boom! (*****)

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Everything that surrounds the atomic bomb seems almost by definition contradictory. Even its own creator. Robert Oppenheimer He was both responsible for the Manhattan project and the most fervent pacifist against the other bomb, the hydrogen bomb, and also against nuclear war itself. He was the one who made the United States become the greatest world power and, over time, capitalism ended up as the only issue on the global agenda, while he himself was declared or not so communist. When Stanley Kubrick, the director of Dr Strangelove -and, therefore, responsible for the clearest atomic precedent of the film of Christopher Nolan which is now being released-, he found himself in trouble to explain himself, he made it clear: “What interests me is that it is the only social problem from which it is not possible to learn absolutely nothing from experience. If it ever happens, there will be very little left in the world from which any consequence can be drawn. Probably there will be no one left who can do it either.” And there we continue. And there’s Nolan.

Oppenheimer, the film, is, faithful to the semantic field that it appropriates, itself a paradox. It wants to be the most intimate of films (and for this reason it is not only written in the first person but runs entirely and obsessively in the mind of its protagonist), but without giving up being the most glorious and devastating at the same time of the shows. It is presented to the viewer as a meticulous study of each of the accidents of the past, of our past, but its intention is none other than to draw the profile of our future from each of our present crises. He traces, as is the norm in the director’s filmography, the function and sense of time, but he does so convinced of the almost all-encompassing power of the profane and sacred space of a movie theater, where solitude, says the filmmaker, is lived in a shared way. The result, ahead of the forecast, is a major work as ambitious and full as it is absorbing and magnetic. There are three hours that run across the screen like a chain reaction of barely a second. And it goes boom.

To situate ourselves, the film builds on the monumental biography of Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwinamerican prometheus (Debate) about the physicist who, to insist on Kubrick, “taught us to stop worrying and to love the bomb.” The idea is not so much to indulge in hagiography or biopic flat and without edges, precisely like walking over its cracks, its paradoxes, its too-dark spots. From the outset, the film is placed in the late moment in which the investigator was persecuted for an alleged communist in the McCarthy era, to later be slandered as a spy for the Soviet Union and, finally, forced to resign from any public function. He was humiliated a second after being turned into the great American hero. and from there in a proverbial circular game whose center is found in each of the points on the surface, the viewer is led by a kind of Moebius strip where the end is the beginning and vice versa.

The movie works like a thriller psychological that at times mutates into legal intrigue at times allows itself to be dragged unceremoniously by the conventions of melodrama and all this without giving up taking shape before the viewer’s conscience according to the most classic standards of terror, of shared fear. The camera is positioned not alongside but literally within the glowing eyes of Cillian Murphy and from there, from the atomic principle of an actor in a state of grace, he builds an entire universe. We are facing something like, to speed up the metaphor, a quantum film that from the exhibition of the behaviors and interactions of cinematographic particles (excuse me) at the atomic and subatomic level succeeds in drawing the exact size of the gaze in all its cosmic extension. It is cinema for intimacy and spectacle, it is cinema that, as has already been said, by dint of moving the invaluable pieces of the minimum reaches the maximum. It is cinema that explodes.

If you want, Oppenheimer It can be read as a distillate, precipitate or point of arrival of a good part of the concerns and achievements of all the director’s previous cinema. The director who originally told a backwards story in Memento (2000) insists on breaking down the very matter of time as an algorithm to understand both the universe and the cinema itself. It is time that, in each evolutionary leap (in each encounter with Kubrick’s monolith in 2001), let’s be different, let’s be something else. Humanity is thus the only one that in its knowledge (or loss) of temporal paradoxes can come to become an alien from herself. That is in Interstellar when he ends up maintaining proud and clairvoyant that “They are us”. When Cooper communicates with his daughter from the other side of the mirror, from the frontier of a new possibility of life, he does nothing but recognize and make effective the only enigma at least as incomprehensible as time itself: love.

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