We asked ourselves the question without believing it, but Christopher Nolan says he did it. To tell the story of the development of the first atomic bomb in “Oppenheimer”, the director thus claims to have reproduced the “Trinity” test, the first nuclear detonation in history, without digital effects…
Christopher Nolan is building a pioneering filmography and intends to push back all known limits. Like James Cameron, but in his own style and in other proportions, the British-American director creates the event with each of his new feature films by his excess and his unique character. It’s been more and more visible since Inceptionwith productions that are both great shows and explorations into unknown territories.Interstellar, Dunkirk, tenet, these films seek to show a “never seen”. And that’s logically whatOppenheimer will do too. And as the director announces, it will be at a whole new level.
“One of my biggest challenges”
In a great interview that Christopher Nolan gave to Total Moviethe director of The Dark Knight and Inception has lifted a little of the veil on his film Oppenheimer. A biopic about scientist Robert Oppenheimer which also takes the form of a historical drama, even orbiting around the war film since it is the account of the development and production of the first atomic bomb. The cast ofOppenheimer is amazing, putting together an arm-length streak of A-Listers. But that was the easy part of the job for the director, who especially applied himself to minimizing as much as possible the use of CGI to create his images. And as one could imagine but without really believing it possible, he announced that he had reproduced a nuclear explosion without CGI.
I think recreating the Trinity atomic test (first nuclear detonation in history, July 16, 1945 in New Mexico, editor’s note) without digital effects was a huge challenge. Andrew Jackson – my visual effects supervisor, who arrived very early on the project – studied how to achieve a large number of practical visual effects, from depicting quantum dynamics and quantum physics to testing Trinity himself, and how to recreate with my team Los Alamos on a set in New Mexico in an extraordinary climate, which was badly needed for the film. The practical challenges were enormous.
We can take it twice to read well but, yes, it is indeed a question of a nuclear explosion without digital effects. The idea is vertiginous. How did the director and his collaborators achieve this? Did they “miniaturize” the effect by producing an explosion of several tons of TNT? The mystery remains for the moment whole.
The life of a man who changed history
In this same interview, Christopher Nolan develops his intention, that of telling a story on a very large scale through the life of a man.
The subjectivity of the story is everything to me. We want to represent these events through the eyes ofOppenheimer. This is the challenge I proposed to Cillian Murphy, to make this trip. That was the challenge for Hoyte van Hoytema, for my designer, for my whole team: how do you represent this extraordinary story through the eyes of the person who was at its center? All decisions were made from this idea. (…) I’m starting to see the results, and working on the editing, I’m delighted to see what the team has been able to accomplish.
Oppenheimer is expected in French theaters on July 19, 2023 and, if we bet to believe its director, it will therefore be a new phenomenon.