When I was a teenager, I had an irrational fear of global thermal nuclear war. I would fantasize what I would do if we got the 10 minute warning that warheads were coming our way.  In my mind, I would rush up to this secret spot where there was an underground, concrete lined, storage room.

It was an irrational fear, in that if WWIII did occur, chances of survival would have been incredibly low. Survival in a post nuclear war world might be quite unpleasant. It was less irrational in that the two global superpowers came close to the abyss several times, in 1962 and 1983. 

Heather and I spent a warm Sunday afternoon in the movie theatre watching the new epic film called Oppenheimer. It is a biopic about the man who became known at the Father of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer. The performance of Cillian Murphy is nothing short of riveting. His eyes draw you into his soul in a way that is entrancing. 

I was most moved by the performance of Robert Downey Jr. as Senator Lewis Strauss. This intriguing storyline - set after the war - threads through the entire film and reveals Strauss as the antagonist. For an actor who struggled with drug and alcohol abuse in his earlier years, Downey Jr. has emerged as a force to be reckoned with. If he doesn’t receive a Best Supporting Acting nod for this movie I would be shocked.

What are we left with after this three hour journey? The man in charge of the Manhattan Project was complex, flawed, and burdened with the success of the project. While the development of the atomic bomb was a team effort involving thousands, the man at the top was Oppenheimer. The horror that the scientific achievement wrought on the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the emotional terror it ignited through the years of the Cold War and beyond, makes it easy to understand and appreciate the level of guilt and moral ambiguity that must have resulted with the man who lead this effort. 

Ultimately, the movie kept my complete attention for three hours. Seeing it in a theatre was appropriate as the subject is so large and loud. There is no wonder it has become the most successful WWII film in history. See it. 


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