Christopher Nolan has certainly taken practical effects to a new level with his upcoming film “Oppenheimer.” The ambitious director spoke recently about recreating the trinity atomic bomb test, WITHOUT the use of CGI. A massive practical undertaking, especially in terms of scale and the sheer amount of pyrotechnics required makes our head spin.
Cillian Murphy, a Nolan favorite, will star as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb.” The theoretical physicist once stated the detonation of the bomb at the trinity test brought to mind a phrase from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, which translates to “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”
In classic Nolan fashion, “Oppenheimer” will not just be an expose of the creator of the atomic bomb. There will be visual representations of quantum dynamics and physics, created through practical effects. What that might look like has us very curious.
“I think recreating the Trinity test [the first nuclear weapon detonation, in New Mexico] without the use of computer graphics, was a huge challenge to take on,” Nolan told Total Film (via Games Radar). “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.”
Nolan is a large proponent of practical effects where they can fit in his films. His use of gimbals and moving sets in “Inception,” the TARS robots of “Interstellar” being puppets, for example. Even “Dunkirk” employed the use of functional vintage planes. For Nolan this is no different, citing that this film is “a story of immense scope and scale”.
“It’s a story of immense scope and scale,” Nolan continued. “And one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever taken on in terms of the scale of it, and in terms of encountering the breadth of Oppenheimer’s story. There were big, logistical challenges, big practical challenges. But I had an extraordinary crew, and they really stepped up. It will be a while before we’re finished. But certainly as I watch the results come in, and as I’m putting the film together, I’m thrilled with what my team has been able to achieve.”
“Oppenheimer” hits theaters July 21st, 2023.