*Siren blows* This is not a drill. Get to a safe distance. This is the biggest bombthat we have ever made. Do not look. I repeat, do not look at the bomb. Now I am become film theorist,.
Destroyer of childhoods. Hello Internet! Welcome to Film Theory, the showthat sometimes actually talks about films. Hey, look, it's not my faultthat most of the interesting stuff these days is happening on the Internet. But shockingly enough,between all the shorts and toilet wars, Hollywood finally managed to producea movie that caught all of our attention. Oppenheimer. And honestly, with Hollywood strikesnowhere close to ending, this is probably.
One of the last times will actually getto talk about a new movie for a while. So let's just do that, shall we? Let's theorizefor a bit about Oppenheimer, because spoiler alert, it'snot actually about the title character. Now, for those of youwho aren't looking to pay 20 bucks to go see 3 hours of mendramatically talking at each other, this is the latest movie from directorChristopher Nolan. And it's all about the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, a brilliant scientistwho was recruited by the U.S.
Government in World War IIto develop the atomic bomb. While a great deal of the film coversthe development of the bomb. Most of the drama actually comes into playwith the fallout of the bomb. Pun definitely intended. You see, Oppenheimer felt intense guiltfor the creation of his weapon, fearing that the escalation of nuclear weaponrywould lead to worldwide annihilation. And so he used his influenceto try to get the United States to back off from the arms racethat he himself inadvertently created. Of course, this doesn't sit toowell with the powers that be,.
And they ultimately try to discredit himfor their own political gain. It is heavy stuff with a lot of superserious themes on its mind. Personally, though, my favorite part of the whole thing waswhen Oppenheimer said “It's Oppin’ time.” Then he Opped all over the screen. It’s completely unexpected,very good twist in the third act. But like I alluded to in the intro,I think there's more going on here. Oh, sure. It's an incredible commentaryon the effects of power,.
Whether or not we should be toying with destructive atomic energyand how ambition can cloud your judgment. But underneath the surface, there's asecond story going on here, a meta story. I believe that Oppenheimer is not just an overt biopicabout the father of the atomic bomb. I also think it's a secret biopicabout the man who made it, the directorChristopher Nolan himself. And what's more,if you look at the direction Oppenheimer's life took in the film, it tells us exactlywhat's next for Nolan in his career.
Here's a hint for you. *lightsabersound* Oh, yeah. So strap on your goggles and don't look directly at the explosionfriends, it's time to set this theory off. So I imagineyour first thought here is probably “ha?” Suggesting that Nolan’s making a moviethis meta doesn't really seem like the sort of thingthat the super serious director would do. Does it? Well, you would think so.But here's the thing. He's done it before. Nolan's first big budget movieafter he hit the mainstream.
With Batman Beginsand The Dark Knight was Inception. Now if you don't know Inception,you most definite know its influence. Memes about this thing were everywhere. It is the sole reason that every trailer from the 20 teenshad those BWAAHs in them. You know the ones. To give you a quick summary. Inception was a classic heist filmwith a twist. The heists were happeninginside of dreams.
It's a really cool film,and it truly pioneered a visual style that would influence movies like DoctorStrange in the years that would follow. But it was also one of the first and biggest moviesto truly lean into theory culture. For instance,the movie ends on this big cliffhanger that, if you pay enough attentionto the small details like a true theorist throughout the rest of the movie,you can actually solve. And that wasn’t it. Years and years ago,there was this popular theory,.
A FAN THEORY going aroundsuggesting that the entire movie was actually one big allegory for the art of filmmaking;with each of the main characters representing a different memberof the film's crew. You had the extractor organizing the whole thing,representing a film's director, the point man who did all the researchrepresenting producers, the architect who created the dreams themselves, representing the productiondesigner, the forger to impersonate others.
In the dream, representing actors,a benefactor, financing the whole project and meddling a little bit more than theyprobably should representing the studios. Even the mark that they were implantingthe ideas in to represent the audience of the moviebeing affected by the film's ideas. It was a really cool, really classic film theory that, believe or not,Nolan himself actually confirmed. He explained that Inceptionwas a reflection of his artistic life and that he wrote the teambased collaborative activity from the movie, based on the team.
Based collaborative processthat he knew: Filmmaking. Which just goes to show ustwo separate things. First, sometimes those super out, theretheories aren't as wrong as you think. And two, Nolan isn't afraid to use allegoriesabout making movies in his movies. So now that we've established that fact,how can we map Nolan's life onto Oppenheimer? Well, Oppenheimer is praisedas a thought leader in his field. He's brilliant, a true visionarywho was able to get the job done.
All of that maps pretty perfectlyonto Nolan, who is undeniably one of the best, most respected directorscurrently working today. Just like Oppy, Nolan is a great leader with other professionalswho are very eager to work with him. I mean, just look at the star powerin Oppenheimer that are basically regulatedto cameos and background extras. A great specific example of this. A few years ago,Matt Damon was taking a break from acting to spend time with his family.
He negotiated with his wifethat the only thing that would get him to end his time offearly was if Christopher Nolan called. Right before Nolan offered himhis part in Oppenheimer. But Nolan's got this respectfrom being a thought leader who's unapologetic for his work. In a cinema ecosystem,where only established IP gets substantial budgets, Nolan is able to getalmost any project that he wants funded. Again, just like Oppenheimer. Who at the beginning of his careerwas considered.
To be out there with his theories, but by the end of it was getting hugefunding for his Manhattan Project. And you cannot deny thatboth of these men get explosive results. Since Batman Begins, Nolan's filmsalmost universally get tons of prestige and money. As for Oppenheimer, his explosive results are measuredin, you know, actual explosions. But for all the goodthat Nolan and Oppenheimer share, you could argue that they also sharea lot of the bad.
For instance, ego and self-importancewere Oppenheimer's biggest flaws. It had to be his wayor the highway. Mapping that onto Nolan. Well, one could look at the disastrous decisionto release the movie Tenet in theaters in September of 2020,at the height of the COVID 19 pandemic. As one article so succinctly put it, quote,I don't want to die for Chris Nolan's ego. Sounds a lot like something someonemight say about Oppenheimer, doesn't it? Another example of Nolan's brilliantstubbornness, are all the criticisms.
Around his sound mixing on multiple moviesdue to, quote, artistic choices. All of Nolan's most recent filmshave been criticized for having dialog that's borderline impossibleto hear, as Forbes put it, quote, I don't know what Chris Nolan has againstdialog. There were widespread reports of audienceshaving trouble hearing several charactersspeak in The Dark Knight Rises, Interstellar,Dunkirk, Tenet and Oppenheimer. Nolan has gone on record saying thathe knows that his movies will be watched across all sorts of different screens.
In good cinemasand bad theaters, televisions, iPhones. But as one sound professionalwho worked with him put it, quote, I know Nolan does like to pushthe envelope. He's an artist, and I don't think he believes in workingto the lowest common denominator. Sounds like a personwhose ego doesn't allow him to compromise. Kind of like a certain scientistpursuing results no matter the odds. So you can certainly see that there's at least some parallelsbetween these two men.
But what about their stories? Well, follow me here,but the dramatized version of Oppy's life from the movie tracksreally nicely with Nolan's career. Both have humble beginningsand advanced through their respective fields,through smarts, hard work and talent. Both are hungry and aspire to greatness,eventually catching the attention of bigger players. For Oppenheimer,his brilliance makes him a candidate to lead a secret programby the American government.
For Nolan, his track recordmakes him a serious contender to direct bigger and bigger movies for mainstreamHollywood studios, where he eventually gets swept upby Warner Brothers. And both menhave themselves their pet ambitions. One of Oppenheimer's biggest goalsearly in his career was to pioneer the study of physics in the United States. He specifically turns down offers to teach and research in Europebecause he wanted to build an American programthat would become a scientific leader.
Similarly, Nolan views himselfas a pioneer in the use of camera technology in film,specifically the IMAX camera to get larger than life shots in his movies. Every single one of his moviessince The Dark Knight has used this technologyand IMAX has since become a staple of big budgetcinematic experiences. Which leads us then to the biggest partof this whole thing, the bomb. For Oppenheimer. His bomb is easy.It is literally the atomic bomb,.
Which would change the course of his lifeforever. For Nolan, though,his atomic weapon is a bit more symbolic. His bomb is the superheromega franchise, specifically Batman, which would also foreverchange the course of his career. Here we have two leaders withincredibly specific and different visions of how they go about things. Against protocol, Oppenheimer gathersthe most brilliant minds that he can find regardless of their gender and pastaffiliations, wrangling them all together in Los Alamos in the middle of nowhere,and in a world increasingly moving towards.
CGI and special effects action, Nolan'sBatman movies were really grounded. They were down to earth.They were practically shot. And in the end, both men's methods worked. The Oppenheimer led Trinity test producesthe atomic bomb and the Nolan led movie production created the Dark Knight trilogy, which became some ofthe most successful movies of the 2000s. But what happens after thisincredible success? The people who funded those projectsturn around and use them in ways that Nolan and Oppenheimerdon't approve of.
Both the United States and other countrieslike the Soviet Union kept pushing the development of these atomicexplosives, much to Oppenheimer's horror. While Warner Brothers and other majormotion picture studios kept creating massive superhero filmsusing The Dark Knight as their template. One specific parallel that I could draw here is President Trumanstanding in for Warner Brothers. Without Oppenheimer's knowledgeor consent the bombs created at Los Alamos were deployed in the field. Meanwhile, WB took their entire 2021movie slate and dropped it onto HBO Max.
Without consulting any of their partners. That move specifically appalled Nolan, who felt blindsided by that decision,and he ditched Warner as a partner. Likewise, the government's decisionto use the bombs instead of sharing the knowledgeto the wider world led to a rift between Oppenheimerand the military as his advice was ignored and he was pushed further and further awayfrom the decision making process. Years and years later,after the dust settles, both men returned to what they were doing before.
Oppenheimer teaches, and Nolan returnsto moviemaking outside the franchise ecosystem with his movieslike Dunkirk and Tenet. But despite this, they both continueto work against their former benefactors. We've already spoken about how Nolan and WB had a falling out,but Oppenheimer's insistence to speak out against the H-bombprogram earned him the ire of government figures like LewisStrauss, and his security clearance was revokedin an embarrassing semipublic trial. And you see, this is where we're at inNolan story currently.
Despite the bad blood our Straussstand in Warner Brothers is trying to woo him back to work on their projects. But our allegorical Oppenheimer,Christopher Nolan, isn't really interested in doing thingsthe way they want to. Nolan just flat out is not interestedin working on the studio superhero mega franchises anymore,and he's keen to let the world know it. During the press tour for Oppenheimer,when asked if he would do any more superhero films,Nolan replied with a very quick and curt “No.” And it's obvious to see why.
I mean, just look at what these mega franchiseshave done to cinema in the past few years. We've talked about ita lot on this channel already, but studios are pumping more and more money into their big branddriven, superpowered action movies. Chasing the box office numberspulled in by those Dark Knight films. But that just isn't a sustainable model. In a lot of ways those early Chris NolanBatman movies set off a chain reaction that ultimately led to massive bombslike The Flash earlier this year.
To me, this is actually the most compellingcomparison between these two men. For Oppy there was this worrythat the atomic test at Los Alamos was going to set offa chain reaction that would ignite the atmosphereand destroy the world. Now, obviouslythat didn't end up happening. But in the most chilling scenein the whole movie, Oppenheimer tells us that he's afraidthat he did set off a chain reaction that would destroy the world.
It wasn't one bomb. It was unlocking the power of the atomin general, leading to bigger and bigger weaponry that wouldultimately lead to nuclear annihilation. Nolan, meanwhile, inadvertently set offa similar chain reaction across Hollywood. With all the moneynow getting funneled into mega franchises, he effectively helped to kill off the low and mid-budget moviesthat started his career. And now, as those big movies fail one after the other,the industry as a whole is collapsing.
The world of Hollywoodhas literally been set on fire. That being said, this is where our bigtwist of this whole allegory comes in. Because Oppenheimer, the film hasso many parallels to Nolan's own life. We can actually use the end of Oppy’sstory to predict what Nolan is going to do next. Clearly,Nolan isn't done with big budget cinema and he's doing his best to use his name to pull weightwithin the world of filmmaking. Nolan will want to pull things backto a reasonable scale,.
Telling stories that are goodwhile also pushing the artform forward. And to do it, just like Oppenheimertried to join the development of the hydrogen bombto steer it in a direction he preferred, I suspect Nolan will be going backto the mega franchises. In fact, I think we can even pinpointwhich ones he's going to do. Hear me out and quote me later. Christopher Nolan will direct a Star Warsmovie, also a James Bond movie. Why those two specifically? Well, first of all, a James.
Bond project would fit Nolan's downto Earth style perfectly. He's even expressed interest in it. During the press tourfor Oppenheimer he said this: But the more interesting direction here, the possibility of a ChristopherNolan's Star Wars film. You see, like so many of us here on the Internet,Nolan has some strong capital ‘O’ opinions about the Star Wars franchise,especially what makes them so successful. The way he sees it,a lot of people think that the Star Wars.
Franchise has only worked because of its story,and he disagrees with that entirely. He thinks thatwhile the plot is important, these sorts of moviesalso need to push technology along. To make something new and coolwith its visual effects. It has to be spectacle alongside story. And by the looks of it, he'snot just interested in diagnosing the problem, it seems like he's interestedin finding the cure himself. During that same interview.
Where he said point blank that he wouldn'tdo any more superhero movies, Nolan specifically declined to answerwhen he was asked about Star Wars. Sounds to me likesomeone who's in negotiations with Disney. Which makes me wonder,will Nolan be able to make it happen? If he is able to make more movies in these mega franchises, will he be ableto steer them into something better? Something more meaningful?Something more cinematic? Or will his guidance be ignoredjust like Oppenheimer's was? But hey! That's just a theory.
A FILM THEORY! aaaaaaaand cut. And hey, If you want to check out some of our older film theoriesabout the Chris Nolan Batman movies that started this whole chain reaction,why not check out our video about how the Jokeris secretly a billionaire? Or if you want a really old schoolclassic film theory, check out the video about how Batman actually destroyedGotham in The Dark Knight Rises.