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'Oppenheimer' grapples with horror of atomic weapons in official trailer for Nolan's historical epic

Oppenheimer arrives on the big screen Friday, July 21.

By Josh Weiss

Unlike Doctor Strangelove, Cillian Murphy does not learn to the love the bomb in the official trailer for Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer. Hitting theaters this July, the explosive historical epic tracks the creation of the first atomic weapon through the eyes of one of the leading scientists behind the top-secret Manhattan Project.

The footage — which debuted over the weekend alongside IMAX screenings of Avatar: The Way of Water — grapples with the question of whether humanity can be trusted to wield the devastating power of the atom. Not surprisingly, the answer is a big fat "NO!!!" and the various shots of Murphy looking haunted and regretful underscore the apocalyptic can of worms our species opened when the United States dropped two nuclear weapons on Japan at the close of World War II. In true Nolan style, the trailer hints at a lofty and non-linear story punctuated by constant reminders of the destructive forces of the universe.

Watch the trailer below:

Emily Blunt (Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer), Matt Damon (General Leslie Groves Jr.), Robert Downey Jr. (Lewis Strauss), Florence Pugh (Jean Tatlock), Josh Hartnett (Ernest Lawrence), Michael Angarano (Robert Serber), Benny Safdie (Edward Teller), Kenneth Branagh, Rami Malek, Alden Ehrenreich, David Dastmalchian, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Dylan Arnold, and David Krumholtz comprise the insanely talented supporting ensemble.

In addition to writing and directing, Nolan produced the film alongside Emma Thomas and Charles Roven. The project made headlines last week when Nolan revealed that his VFX team somehow pulled off the effect of a nuclear blast without the use of computer-generated tools. Until we hear anything to the contrary, we're just going to assume Universal Pictures let them detonate a real atomic bomb.

"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," the filmmaker remarked during an interview with Total Film.

Based on American Prometheus (the Pulitzer-winning biography of J. Robert Oppenheimer written by Kai Bird and the late Martin J. Sherwin), Oppenheimer arrives on the big screen Friday, July 21.

Per the official release, the blockbuster was filmed "in a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large-format film photography, including — for the first time ever — sections in IMAX black and white analogue photography."


Jonesing for another thriller based on true events? A Friend of the Family is now streaming on Peacock.

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