The Movie and the Moment: An Oppenheimer Review Through the Lens of an Anti-War Activist

Yves here. Even though the movie Oppenheimer story has received accolades, as well as impressive box office receipts for such an unlikely-seeming topic, anti-nuclear proliferation and anti-war voices criticize (in varying levels of forcefulness) how devastating nuclear blasts are. Admittedly something as graphic as John Hersey’s Hiroshima wouldn’t find much of an audience.

In addition to the post from CodePink’s Marcy Winograd below, we are also featuring Scott Ritter’s commentary. Aside from Ritter having famously been a nuclear weapons inspector, he often tells the story of growing up on a US base in Germany, and being (presumably along with pretty much everyone else there) far too aware of being at a prime target for a Soviet nuclear strike. Ritter says he would go to bed wondering if he’d wake up the next day. Ritter stays measured in his talk below but he regularly gets exercised about the cavalierness about the risks of nuclear conflict, particularly among Western leaders.

Interestingly a key point of Ritter’s critique is that the activist movement is so weak in America. He’s right but it would be helpful to understand the many forces that have vitiated it, ranging from Obama Administration-coordinated attacks on leftist campaigners who refused to fall in with Administration messaging (see Jane Hamsher’s “veal pen”) to broader social conditions discouraging the young from participating in reform movements, such as the high costs of education and extensive searching of job applicant social media accounts.

By Marcy Winograd, who as Progressive Democrats of America served as a 2020 DNC Delegate for Bernie Sanders and co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. As coordinator of CODEPINKCONGRESS, Marcy spearheads Capitol Hill calling parties to mobilize co-sponsors and votes for peace and foreign policy legislation

The ground-breaking movie Oppenheimer, despite its unsympathetic protagonist, packs a powerful anti-nuclear punch that makes it hard, if not impossible, to sleep after watching the film.

For this reason alone, the movie should be shown on the floor of Congress and in the White House as required viewing by all in DC bent on spending $1.7 trillion over the next decades to build new nuclear weapons to kill us all.

Only those with a global death wish or on the payroll of Northrop Grumman, the military contractor with the nuclear “modernization” contract, could watch this film and still root for US nuclear rearmament, a horror show now underway with the blessings of DC politicians. Unless people rise up in fury, unless this Hollywood movie sparks a second nuclear-freeze movement, a repeat on steroids of the 80’s nuclear weapons freeze, Congress and the White House will raid the treasury to expand our nuclear arsenal.

On the agenda is a new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile, a gravity bomb with two-stage radiation implosion, a long range strike bomber and the replacement of 400 underground nuclear missiles in the midwest with 600 new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. These new ICBMS–The Sentinel–could each carry up to three warheads 20 times more powerful than the atomic bombs the US dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to incinerate 200,000 people in a span of three days.

Irish actor Cillian Murphy plays the role of J. Robert Oppeneheimer, a hand-wringing scientist, an unfaithful lackluster womanizer, a man with few convictions but lots of demons, who traverses an emotional landscape of ambition, doubt, remorse and surrender.

Oppenheimer oversees the Manhattan Project, the team of scientists hunkering down in the beautiful desert of Los Alamos, New Mexico, to build the hideous atomic bomb before the Germans or Russians crack the code.

In a scene reminiscent of the absurd 1950s, when pig-tailed school children scrambled under desks in mock nuclear drills, scientists don sunscreen and goggles to protect themselves during the blinding Trinity Test. This was the first atomic test conducted with no warning to the downwinders–the nearby indigenous people of the Southwest who developed cancer as a result of radioactive fall out. This was the test before President Truman ordered a 9,000 pound uranium bomb named “Little Boy’ loaded onto a B-29 bomber. This was the trial performance before the same President, depicted in the movie as unctuous and arrogant, orders Fat Boy, a second plutonium bomb– prototype for today’s nuclear weapon–dropped on Nagasaki.

Though the movie can be slow, a three hour endurance test, its historical insights and gut-churning imagery compensate for its lack of likable characters, save for Lt. General Leslie Groves, played by a fun-to-watch Matt Damon as Oppenheimer’s Pentagon handler.

One of the most haunting moments juxtaposes in living color celebrations of the bombings, applause and accolades for Oppenheimer standing at the podium with the guilt-consumed scientist’s black and white visions of irradiated souls, skeletal remains, flesh turned to ash–all amid a cacophony of explosions and pounding feet, the death march.

Even more disturbing are the questions that tug at the moviegoer, who wonders, “Where are the Japanese victims in this film? Why are they missing from this picture? Why are they never shown writhing in pain, their lives and cities destroyed?” Instead, the human targets are seen only through the lens of Oppenheimer who imagines faceless x-rayed ghosts torn asunder in the burning wreckage, their skin, their flesh falling off their bones, their bodies disappearing into nothingness. The omission of the real victims in the interest of maintaining a consistent point of view may make sense from a filmmaker’s perspective, but not from the standpoint of historians and truth tellers. Writer-director Christopher Nolan could have shown us photos, authentic aerial footage of the Japanese, blinded and burned, before the final credits roll to remind us the horror is real, not just a Hollywood movie bound for several Oscar nominations.

In the name of truth the movie does, however, smash the persistent myth that the US had no other choice but to drop the atomic bombs to end WWII. Through dialogue, we learn Japan was about to surrender, the Emperor simply needed to save face; the point of irradiating Hiroshima and Nagasaki, targeting civilians in far off cities, was not to save the world but to show the Soviets the US possessed the technology to destroy the world, so better not cross the aspiring empire.

In closed door sessions, all filmed in black and white, we watch as crusading anti-communist politicians–determined to stop Oppenheimer from advocating for arms control talks with the Soviets–crucify their atomic hero for his association with members of the Communist Party, leftist trade unions and a long ago anti-capitalist lover who threw his bourgeois flowers in the trash.

When the McCarthyites strip Oppenheimer of his security clearance, it’s a big “who cares” shrug for a movie audience weary of Oppenheimer’s internal conflicts over whether science can be divorced from politics, from the consequences of a scientist’s research. How can anyone with a heart want to continue this line of work? To hell with the security clearance.

The movie Oppenheimer is compelling and powerful in its timeliness, though one can’t help but think it would have been exponentially more powerful had it  been told from a different point of view, from the point of view of a scientist who opposed the death-march mission.

We see glimpses of a pond-staring fate-warning Albert Einstein, who in real life lobbied to fund the atomic bomb research only to later oppose the project. It could have been his story–or the story of one of the 70 scientists who signed a “Truman, don’t drop the bomb” petition that Oppenheimer squelched, persuading Edward Teller, the “father of the hydrogen bomb” not to present Truman with the petition drafted by Leo Szilard, the chief physicist at the Manhattan Project’s Chicago laboratory. The movie’s reference to the petition was so fast, so quiet, so mumbled, the audience could have missed it.

If we are not careful, more mindful, more awake, we might miss our moment, our moment to avert another nuclear holocaust, this one a far worse nightmare in which five billion of the Earth’s 8 billion people perish, either immediately from radiation burns and fire or in the months that follow during a famine in which soot blocks the sun.

The White House and a majority of Congress want to rush us, a sleepwalking populace into WWIII with Russia, a nation of 143 million people, 195 different ethnicities and 6,000 nuclear weapons. For those, like the shameful editors of the Washington Post, who insist we continue to forever fund the proxy war, for those in high places who refuse calls for a ceasefire, this movie reminds us of the existential danger we confront in a sea of denial, complicity and exceptionalism.

Despite campaigning on a platform of no first use of nuclear weapons, President Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review echoes his predecessor Trump’s approval of first use should our allies’ interests be threatened.

CODEPINK activists are distributing flyers outside showings of Oppenheimer to invite stunned movie goers leaving the theater in a daze to take action, to join our organization and amplify our peace-building campaigns, to ground the nuclear-capable F-35, to declare China is Not our Enemy and to partner with the Peace in Ukraine Coalition.

This is the movie, this is the moment, this is the time to challenge the euphemistic nuclear modernization program, to expose the madness of militarism that abandons urgent needs at home to line the pockets of military contractors gorging at the Pentagon trough.This is the time to demand a ceasefire and peace talks to end the war in Ukraine, to stop preparations for war with China, to finally pass legislation to ban first use, to take our ICBM’s off hair trigger alert, to abide by our disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to campaign for the US to become signatories to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Opposed by NATO–a huckster for nuclear proliferation–the TPNW has been signed by 95 state parties wishing to outlaw the development, deployment and use of nuclear weapons.

Unlike Oppenheimer, we can make the right choice; the choice that saves the human race from immediate extinction.

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  1. skippy

    If I was folly I would consider the antiquarian rape of cities as being the precursor, to the atomic bomb, albeit in reverse = technology just made the ideological choice easier e.g. WE [tm] prosper and they don’t.

    Sadly Neoliberalism, its architects, past and present, are like the wife that loads the gun and the bloke in a relationship with her can’t say – NO – for any reason or get taken to the cleaners …. or worse ….

    So all and sundry without agency will have to watch it all play out from the nose bleed seats whilst scraping for the last beer or nuts the vendors at that level still have to offer.

    Heck of a world ….

  2. Ignacio

    As an aside, i think Scott Ritter has grown to be a very good and honest communicator. Merits a lot of respect, given the circumstances.

  3. Candide

    Honest journalism and pro-humanity efforts are clear targets of the profiteers capturing an ever expanding share of the national budget. Could someone be found willing to kill for a share of a billion dollars? Put it more modestly, would some folks bend the truth to keep getting published, or to keep a job?
    Would NYT participate in such mischief?
    For those without a NYT subscription here’s access to the paper’s Aug 5 attack on “Chinese talking points”:
    “A Global Web of Chinese Propaganda Leads to a U.S. Tech Mogul”

    Brian Berletic is a former Marine with a Youtube (and other platforms) channel called The New Atlas.
    He has a lot in common with Smedley Butler who after leading US military interventions on three continents spoke widely and wrote a book with the theme, “War is a Racket.” As a military analyst and propaganda critic, Brian’s discussions on US “soft coups” via government- and corporate-funded nonprofits is revealing a lot about a very active set pf projects in southeast Asia seeking to isolate China from its neighbors.

    With Washington planning for war with China, efforts to distance us from opponents of that plan are inevitable. A recent interview Brian did with a Hong Kong journalist was informative.
    When Hong Kong followed the example of our Congress in passing law making it illegal for foreign money to drive political movements in their land, both the street violence and a “pro-democracy” leader who claimed to have been born in Hong Kong but was actually from Georgia (USA) all cleared off.

    Anyone who has followed Global Exchange and Code Pink has to laugh at the pretense that Code Pink cofounder Jodie Evans was waiting for Chinese money to decide what she cares about!

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The article is highly suspect due to its failure to provide goods. Is the target Neville Roy Singham on the board of any of these orgs he has funded? At least a 10% donor? You need to give at least that much to expect to influence messaging, and more to change messaging in a way that might put off other backers. All the article claimed was he gave money to different groups, and gave no sense of the importance to total funding or consistency of funding over time. That’s not sufficient to establish he has the level of sway they claim.

      However, the Times was clever in picking Singham as their object of disapproval. One of my contacts is a bona fide leftist, runs a lot in donor circles, and is very cynical. He nevertheless warned against defending Singham, that he was mixed up in a way that was detrimental in a union dispute in South Africa, and manages to carry himself in a way that is seen as dodgy. It may be that he signals he wants a quid pro quo when he give money, which is not the way it is usually done in these circles.

      But my contact was clear that the idea that Singham was some sort of Chinese operative was barmy.

    2. Taufiq Al-Thawry

      I want to pass along this sign-on letter condemning the NYT article in particular, but also “McCarthy-like attacks against individuals and organizations criticizing US foreign policy, labeling peace advocates as ‘Chinese or foreign agents'” more generally.

      I’m not entirely sure if this is permitted in these comments, so my apologies to the moderators if it is not. Do know I’m posting it in good faith (I do work with some of these orgs occasionally as an anti-war Iraq vet) and it’s germane to the article and at least two commenters so far.

  4. Carolinian

    According to the book American Prometheus Truman didn’t find out about the bombing of Nagasaki until after it had happened and then ordered a halt to the scheduled dropping of more bombs (which he had approved with the strike on Hiroshima). A third bomb was ready to be dropped.

    And the NYT just published a shameful attack on peace groups including Codepink.

    From a think tank in Massachusetts to an event space in Manhattan, from a political party in South Africa to news organizations in India and Brazil, The Times tracked hundreds of millions of dollars to groups linked to Mr. Singham that mix progressive advocacy with Chinese government talking points.

    Some, like No Cold War, popped up in recent years. Others, like the American antiwar group Code Pink, have morphed over time. Code Pink once criticized China’s rights record but now defends its internment of the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs, which human rights experts have labeled a crime against humanity.

    Of course the Times was onboard with the first McCarthy-ism although perhaps not to the extent they promote our current one. Seems they did object to the humiliation of Oppenheimer by the AEC.

    Which is to say the psychological factors that caused Truman to approve the first bombing–fear of “adversaries” who challenge US power–are just as at play up in the Swamp these days as they were back then. They even have to pretend that Putin is Stalin to keep the scam going. The bombs may no longer be on the hair trigger they were back in the duck and cover days but the insanity persists. After all becoming “Death, the destroyer of worlds” is quite a rush.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I didn’t want to write this yet again, but to recap: The 2003 book Humanity: A Moral History of the 20th Century by Jonathan Glover did extensive, first time archival research on the question of the decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He found that no one approved it. The key participants all acted as if it was a fait accompli they could not oppose. My book is sadly in a ship on the ocean, so I can’t look up the long form of his findings right now. But I imagine Truman’s version of that story would be the military had decided and as a new President, he didn’t have the stature or information sources to second guess them.

      1. Carolinian

        The argument later made by Groves and Truman too I believe was that if they didn’t use it then they would be blamed for every American who died after that decision. But Truman as president did have the power to call it off and see below about how he halted further attacks after Nagasaki.

        Many of the scientists who made the bomb were from Europe and they–Einstein too–saw the effort as being all about Hitler and unneeded after VE day. The Americans on the other hand had a vengeful and yes racist attitude toward the Japanese that is not much remembered after Brokaw and his Greatest Generation stuff. I’m sure you are right that there was never much question at the time about use although remarks by Eisenhower and others are now quoted to suggest that there was.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I don’t mean to sound like I am defending the Japanese, since both they and the Germans did horrible things like experiment on prisoners.

            This source looks these two Axis members and presumably has a consistent methodology. From STATISTICS OF DEMOCIDE:

            By genocide, the murder of hostages, reprisal raids, forced labor, “euthanasia,” starvation, exposure, medical experiments, and terror bombing, and in the concentration and death camps, the Nazis murdered from 15,003,000 to 31,595,000 people, most likely 20,946,000 men, women, handicapped, aged, sick, prisoners of war, forced laborers, camp inmates, critics, homosexuals, Jews, Slavs, Serbs, Germans, Czechs, Italians, Poles, French, Ukrainians, and many others. Among them 1,000,000 were children under eighteen years of age.1 And none of these monstrous figures even include civilian and military combat or war-deaths….

            From the invasion of China in 1937 to the end of World War II, the Japanese military regime murdered near 3,000,000 to over 10,000,000 people, most probably almost 6,000,000 Chinese, Indonesians, Koreans, Filipinos, and Indochinese, among others, including Western prisoners of war. This democide was due to a morally bankrupt political and military strategy, military expediency and custom, and national culture (such as the view that those enemy soldiers who surrender while still able to resist were criminals).

      2. Michaelmas

        Yves S. : I imagine Truman’s version of that story would be the military had decided and as a new President, he didn’t have the stature or information sources to second guess them.

        “I felt like the moon, the stars, and all of the planets had fallen on me, was something Truman said — because he’d known nothing of the Manhattan Project before Roosevelt died and the responsibilities of the presidency descended on him — that stays in the mind.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘A third bomb was ready to be dropped.’

      I can’t really prove this with any links as this was something I read about a very long time ago, but I do not think that there was a third atomic bomb. The way I read it, the Manhattan built three different designs for atomic bombs. The first one was let off at Los Alamos as a sort of proof of concept. The second and third were detonated over Japan which means that that was it and the cupboard was bare. So when the US said that they would use more if Japan did not surrender, they were bluffing and it was not until about a year later that they had two more that were set off at Bikini Atol and no more for two years after that.

      1. John Steinbach

        While there has been much discussion about a third bomb to be used against Tokyo on August 19, and immediately after Hiroshima Truman said, “If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”, there is little direct evidence that a third bomb was available. One of the best discussions of this is found at:

        In a nut shell, there were interviews with Paul Tibbetts & somewhat ambiguous memos indicating that components for a third bomb may have been shipped to Tinian on August 10, the day of Japan’s surrender.

      2. Carolinian

        One of the most persistent claims about the end of World War II is that the United States had no more atomic bombs after the second attack and that President Harry Truman was bluffing when he promised to drop more on Japan if it did not unconditionally surrender. But this is a myth: It was no bluff.

        In the closing months of World War II, the United States was producing as many atomic bombs as it could. Days away from having another bomb for a third attack, the United States was close to preparing it for deployment before the Japanese surrendered. Just hours before hearing of Japan’s final surrender on August 14, 1945, Truman had ruefully told a British diplomat that he had “no alternative” but to order a third atomic bomb attack. Had World War II lasted a few more days, the odds of a third bomb—and several more—were very high.[…]

        After being forged at Los Alamos in August 1945, the last core did not travel to Japan. The core, which some accounts claim was nicknamed “Rufus,” or even “Dirty Gerty,” stayed in New Mexico and would be used in experimental work before earning its new nickname: the demon core.

        The bombs were shipped piece mill out to the Pacific and assembled onsite. My memory from the Richard Rhodes book is that the military were prepared to drop one per month after the initial attacks but certainly not one per week. In any case they apparently did have enough on hand for at least one more core.

  5. The Rev Kev

    Somehow the idea that the film “Oppenheimer” is supposed to be such a great film highlighting atomic weapons and how they came to be, well, I remain dissatisfied. Since Hollywood right now is all about sequels and prequels and remakes and whatever else, perhaps they should remake the 1980s TV series “The Day After” which will remind people just what a nuclear war would actually look like. Any TV series capable of putting the wind up Ronnie Reagan is one that would have a message that would resonate even more with all this loose talk of nukes today- (5:53 mins)

      1. The Rev Kev

        We both know that such a film would never be allowed to be made these days because as you said, Mr. Market would have a sad. If it was, there would be more flights to New Zealand to brand new bunkers. :)

        1. skippy

          Wow the gangs that work on those things would have an epic field day if circumstances came about. NZ is almost a Somalia with some colonial after shave on it, whites get to project ownership but, it a wheel comes off the gangs will go Mexico.

          One hand washes the other and let not forget the epic posts by Richard Smith ….

    1. vao

      Replay The war game by Peter Watkins instead. It only made the circuit of film festivals because the BBC, which had paid for it, only dared air it after 20 years had passed. By then, both The day after and Threads had been produced and shown on TV.

      And I dread the idea of a remake of The day after, knowing how low Hollywood has fallen in terms of scenaristic abilities and all the politically-correct baggage such a remake would be laden with.

      1. elissa3

        I saw The War Game when it was released in NYC movie theaters in 1966. It had a strong effect then, due to its pseudo-documentary style as well as for its content. As it takes place in the UK, I don’t know how it would resonate in the USA today. At that time the Brits were very familiar cousins to us and generally viewed with great sympathy, (Beatles, etc.), by my generation.

    2. Peerke

      Or perhaps people could just watch Threads (BBC 1984). I remember I didn’t sleep for the best part of a week after watching it. Some say it is the best thing the BBC ever produced.

      1. S.D., M.D.

        “Threads” is by all means a must see, far more brutal than “The Day After”. The most chilling aspect(really easy to miss amid the unfortunate soap opera melodrama at the start) is the clear implication that the government’s plan was to SEIZE resources prior to the attack, MAXIMIZE early deaths from blast and radiation, and force the remaining survivors into slave labor by controling the food supply.(1000 calories for those who performed a full day of manual labor, nothing for anyone else)

        Hard to imagine it got made even then, impossible to imagine it being made now, shocking that it has not been disappeared altogether.

  6. Carolinian

    BTW someone mentioned here the other day that The Day After Trinity documentary is available at and I downloaded it yesterday and it is a decent copy although annoyingly cropped down to 16:9 shape from 4:3. Which is to say if the tops of heads are cut off don’t blame it on the filmmakers.

    Definitely worth a look as it directly covers the material in the Oppenheimer film but shows the real participants while still around back in 1981.

  7. Peter Nightingale

    Oppenheimer was meant to sell and it does. The movie may be convincing theater, but it is a shallow, cartoonish rendition of The American Prometheus, the book on which it is based. It completely ignores what Daniel Ellsberg wrote in his Doomsday Machine. That’s by design. Hurray for Hollywood!
    General Groves, the military leader of the Manhattan Project, almost immediately understood that the Soviets were the target. He said so in sworn testimony at the Oppenheimer hearing before the Personnel Security Board of the Atomic Energy Commission.
    The July 16, 1945 Trinity test, was timed to give Truman confidence in dealing with Stalin and Churchill at the July 24, 1945, conference in Potsdam . (Bird and Sherwin. American Prometheus (p. 476). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition):

    “On July 24,” Truman wrote in his memoirs, “I casually mentioned to Stalin that we had a new weapon of unusual destructive force. The Russian premier showed no special interest. All he said was that he was glad to hear it and hoped we would make ‘good use of it against the Japanese.’ ”

    Here is what I wrote about it:

    The Human Mind Responds to Stories Not Issues

    Good for money making but not for dealing with apocalyptic threats

    That bit about stories essentially comes from Daniel Kahneman. He distinguishes two kinds of thought processes: (a) system 1, fast gut responses; and (b) system 2, slow cerebral thinking.

    He is probably correct in his observation that:

    You have to assume that system 1 is largely indifferent to quality and the amount of evidence. It’s bound more by the coherence of the story than by the evidence behind it.

    System 1 responds to stories told by trusted sources. It ignores distant threats such as a nuclear holocaust and the global climate catastrophe. The same applies to poverty. It doesn’t come with a mushroom cloud, leaves no fingerprints, and lacks easily recognized villains.

    What I wrote will probably have little or no impact, but I’ll be damned if that stops me.

    1. elissa3

      A pretty convincing source on the decision to use the bomb is Charles Mee’s book, Meeting at Potsdam, which came out in 1975. While it may over-dramatize some of the process, the conclusion is pretty clear: Truman and Byrnes were the bad guys.

      The removal of Henry Wallace at the 1944 Demo Convention was a turning point for the future of this country.

    2. Ranger Rick

      As I heard it, the evening after that exchange with Truman, Stalin phoned the head of the KGB, Beria, and said they needed their own atomic bomb as soon as possible. I understand that as the actual start of the Cold War.

  8. chuck roast

    Wait…Oppey persuaded Teller not to present Truman with a Szilard petition not to drop the bomb? That’s a first for me. Teller’s popular persona is of a man with heart blacker than coal.

  9. Jeremy Grimm

    I have not seen the movie “Oppenheimer” although I have seen the play “In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer”. The man Oppenheimer offers a complex and interesting character for drama. The Manhattan Project, the bombing of Japan, and Oppenheimer’s treatment by the u.s. government make a great setting and conflict ripe for exploitation as drama. From the criticisms expressed in this post I am guessing Nolan’s movie “Oppenheimer” exploits the character and drama to create an entertaining movie. What is wrong with that? Must all drama and entertainment be didactic? Much as I enjoy Brecht, I do not think so. I also wonder whether the movie Oppenheimer is not didactic in matters other than the horrors of nuclear weapons and nuclear war. I thought the play about Oppenheimer made an effort to portray the harsh way that the u.s Military and government used and discarded the scientists who built the atomic bomb. I would be surprised if the movie did not raise similar points. That should be sufficiently didactic for a popular entertainment in the present environment of heavy handed government censure. I think asking that the movie teach lessons about the horrors of nuclear weapons and the sins of the u.s. government might be asking too much of today’s Hollywood. I view this post as an opportunistic effort to ride the moment to promote an anti-nuclear agenda rather than a criticism of the movie “Oppenheimer” as a movie or as a drama.

    There is no shortage of anti-nuclear movies or dramas. I eagerly await Paul jay’s documentary:
    “Daniel Ellsberg ‘How to Stop a Nuclear War’ Documentary in the Works”
    Paul Jay has made available at least 10 interviews with Daniel Ellsberg discussing his book “The Doomsday Machine” that make a compelling indictment of nuclear weapons and the genuinely insane way the u.s. Military and government have misused, exploited, and grossly mismanaged these weapons.

    As I recall, the movie “Hiroshima mon Amour” included scenes showing the aftermath of the dropping the nuclear bomb. The HBO miniseries Chernobyl shows some graphic scenes of the horrors of dying from exposure to radiation. The anime “Grave of Fireflies” portrays a heart rending story about the state of life in Japan near the end of the World War II, and the civilian horrors of Curtis LeMay’s fire bombing campaign. The second Terminator movie has a frightening scene showing the nuclear incineration of children in a playground. If anyone is truly ignorant of the horrors of nuclear weapons I think it is a willful ignorance.

    I also think Scott Ritter’s belief expressed in his video that millions demonstrating against nuclear weapons might somehow alter the government’s plan to pour $1.7 trillion into the nuclear “modernization” program reflects a forlorn wish. It ignores the government suppression of popular discontent and the disconnect between the expressed will of the Populace and the actions of the government. Nuclear modernization is about $1.7 trillion flowing into the pockets of the MIC. It has nothing to do with national defense or the concerns of the Populace.

    1. Michaelmas

      Jeremy Grimm: I think asking that the movie teach lessons about the horrors of nuclear weapons and the sins of the u.s. government might be asking too much of today’s Hollywood.

      The film actually does do that, without pounding anybody over the head by being a piece of agitprop, like some people here want — as if that’s going to do a bit of good or make for good art.

      It also does something more besides in its last half hour that hasn’t been mentioned, in that it develops the theme of how, just as Oppenheimer’s career got destroyed by Lewis Strauss and Strauss’s manipulation of the US national security state, so in turn Strauss’s career got destroyed in the exact same way.

      It makes very clear that the US national security state is a Moloch.

      The film has its longeurs in its early segments — it’s trying to jam a lot of complicated history in there and simplifying a lot of material — but the last hour of it really sticks the landing. In 2023 I’m pleasantly surprised that anybody got away with something this serious in a big-budget entertainment.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Your comment is heartening. I will wait for this film to go to DVD to avoid sitting for three-hours in a theater wearing my P100 mask, but I will see it when I can, if for no other reason than that I find Oppenheimer an intriguing personality and character.

  10. lakko

    Another classic anti-nuke film from the early 1980’s is The Atomic Cafe, which uses archive footage, without editorial or voice over commentary, to get across the insane absurdity of the nuclear arms race. At the time (I saw it in a local alt film movie house), it seemed like a timely counterpoint to Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ Strategic Defense Initiative program sci-fi hype, which falsely promised that the US could survive a full scale nuclear war.

  11. Victor Sciamarelli

    I certainly share the fascination with Robert Oppenheimer and question the atomic bombing of Japan. And it’s natural to discuss whether or not the bomb should have been used.
    However, one side says the bomb saved lives and another side says it wasn’t necessary. The problem is the ‘saved lives’ group can’t prove they are correct and the ‘wasn’t necessary’ group can’t prove they are wrong.
    We do know, however, that the same President Harry Truman who ordered the bombs be dropped on Japan in 1945, only a few years later refused to allow their use in the Korean War in 1950.
    Japan was already defeated before 1945. Korea was divided and in 1950 the South was largely agricultural while the North had the industry and major rail connections, and the initial invasion by the North nearly defeated the South. Moreover, by 1950 the US still had a nuclear monopoly and had hundreds of upgraded nuclear weapons which would have quickly flattened the North’s industrial base. Still, Truman refused to use them.
    I think some of this revolves around the different war aims of WW2 and the Korean War. The US stuck to the ridiculous ‘unconditional surrender’ demand for Japan but thought more about the post war order taking shape by 1950. Still, I think the 1945 and 1950 decisions should be considered together because things could have really gone down the road in 1950.
    IMHO, the nuclear war is directly connected to war itself. Thus, if war is eliminated or, at least, made as difficult as possible to initiate, then there is a chance of eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons.

  12. maray

    There is also a free to watch move ’24 hours after hiroshima’ available on youtube, which shows the affects of the bombing and the US scientists in Japan after the bombing to measure the results – this as the war continued. This proves the lie that the US didn’t know what the effects would be because they had already prepared to send people into the blast zone’
    NHK has ‘Ukraine’s Nuclear Dilemma’ available on their website and other platforms youtube etc

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