Oppenheimer The Real Story on DVD


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Oppenheimer The Real Story on DVD


1 disc. Drama. Year: 2023. Colour and Black & White. Running Time: 101 minutes.
Director: Robin Bextor.
Contributors: Charles Thorpe, Ray Monk, Clay Jenkinson, Kai Bird and more.

This documentary explores the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a prominent physics professor at UC Berkeley. It unveils his pivotal role in developing the atomic bomb as the leader of the Los Alamos Lab during World War II. The film also traces his early years and subsequent advocacy for strict controls on nuclear weapons. Through interviews and fresh perspectives, the documentary weaves together the voices of those who shared personal connections with Oppeheimer, as well as individuals whose lives were shaped by his legacy.

On October 9, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt  approved a programme to develop an atomic bomb. National Defense Research Committee Chairman  James B. Conant, one of Oppenheimer’s lecturers at Harvard, asked Oppenheimer to work on fast neutron calculations, a task Oppenheimer threw himself into.

In the early hours of July 16, 1945, near Alamogordo, New Mexico, the work at the Los Alamos laboratory where Oppenheimer and his team worked culminated in the test of the world’s first nuclear weapon. Brigadier General Thomas Farrell, who was present in the control bunker with Oppenheimer, recalled:

“Dr. Oppenheimer, on whom had rested a very heavy burden, grew tenser as the last seconds ticked off. He scarcely breathed. He held on to a post to steady himself. For the last few seconds, he stared directly ahead and then when the announcer shouted ‘Now!’ and there came this tremendous burst of light followed shortly thereafter by the deep growling roar of the explosion, his face relaxed into an expression of tremendous relief.” Oppenheimer’s brother Frank recalled Oppenheimer’s first words as: “I guess it worked”. Oppenheimer expressed his hopes and fears in a quotation from Bhartṛhari’s Śatakatraya:

“In battle, in the forest, at the precipice in the mountains,
On the dark great sea, in the midst of javelins and arrows,
In sleep, in confusion, in the depths of shame,
The good deeds a man has done before defend him.”

Oppenheimer had studied Hindu texts and learned Sanskrit. In 1965 he recalled the first atomic explosion: “We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried. Most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita: Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”

In later life, Oppenheimer was increasingly concerned about the danger that scientific inventions could pose to humanity. He joined with Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Joseph Rotblat, and other eminent scientists and academics to establish what would eventually, in 1960, become the World Academy of Art and Science.

Additional information

Weight .505 kg
Dimensions 29.7 × 21.0 × 3.0 cm