The film is based on nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who was the director of the Manhattan Project and therefore universally regarded as the “father of the atomic bomb”, reports ‘Variety’.
Nolan made the revelation about the film to ‘Total Film’ magazine. The director has always favoured practical effects over VFX (he even blew up a real Boeing 747 for ‘Tenet’), so it’s no surprise he went the practical route when it came time to film a nuclear weapon explosion.
“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 was quoted as saying by ‘Variety’.
“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 added.
‘Variety’ adds that Nolan went on to call ‘Oppenheimer’ a “story of immense scope and scale”.
He said, “It’s 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.
“I had an extraordinary crew, and they really stepped up. It will be a while before we’re finished. 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.”
‘Interstellar’, ‘Dunkirk’ and ‘Tenet’ cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema reunited once again with Nolan for ‘Oppenehimer’ and the two managed to get IMAX to create a new kind of film stock for them.
The director further shared, “We challenged the people at Kodak photochem to make this work for us,” Nolan said. “And they stepped up. For the first time ever, we were able to shoot IMAX film in black-and-white. And the results were thrilling and extraordinary.
“As soon as Hoyte (van Hoytema, Nolan’s cinematographer since ‘Interstellar’) and I saw the first tests come in, we just knew that this was a format that we were immediately in love with.”
‘Oppenehimer’ is set to arrive in cinemas on July 21, 2023.