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It's rare for a movie to both encompass the process of problem solving
and a fantastically far-reaching moral quandary AND be a fairly
accurate historical movie, but Fat Man and Little Boy pulls off this
It's the story of the Manhattan Project -- the World War II effort to build the atom bomb, told as the conflict between the two men who made it happen, Gen. Leslie Groves and Robert Oppenheimer.
The historical figures are a great study in opposites: military vs. civilian, practical vs. idealistic, emotional vs. scientific, brute force vs. consensus-based problem solving, immediacy vs. long-term vision. A fictional character, played by John Cusack, is added as a sort of synthesis of the two historical figures, to show the humanity that oddly escapes the real people (and of course the obligatory love interest, played by Laura Dern). One looking for a straight documentary might criticize the lapses into melodrama (and occasional looseness with the facts, but that's Hollywood for ya), but the purpose of fiction is to synthesize and galvanize events into more universal truths, so I think this can be forgiven.
One of the great visuals in the movie is when Oppenheimer witnesses the first atomic explosion: it's done entirely through his reaction, and considering the awesome visuals inherent in an atomic explosion, it's a brave and entirely effective way of describing in a single moment the ambivalent effect on humans of unleashing such power (the sort of thing lost in the typical Hollywood shoot 'em up version of history.) The use of music is particularly excellent in the last third of the movie.
Fairly accessible and highly recommended as both a historical movie and drama of the highest order.
This exciting picture is a dramatization of nuclear run and follows the
development of the Manhattan project in Los Alamos from first
conception of the power within the atom , the 235 uranium , with the
neutrons bombing into the piles of graphite which leads to nuclear
reaction that produces the atomic bomb , ¨the Trinity¨ . The movie
describes the power struggles and tensions between an idealist Robert
Oppenheimer (Dwight Schulz) , the project's science leader and General
Leslie Groves (Paul Newman) , the project's military commander . It was
a race for the bomb because of the Nazis with the scientist Heisenberg
were also making a nuclear bomb . Besides, there appears famous
scientists who contributed to the atomic success with the first bomb as
Leo Szilard , Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller .
The film is overlong , a little bit dull and slow moving , though the semi-fictional accounts narrated are very interesting . Paul Newman as the military brain is excellent and Dwight Schulz (A team) as Oppenheimer , the head behind it , is magnificent . In real life, Newman was a liberal and Schultz is a conservative , opposites of the roles they played in this film . Furthermore , a distinguished rest cast as John Cusack , Laura Dern , Bonnie Bedelia , and Natasha Richardson , all of them are enjoyable . Director Roland Joffé cast numerous real-life scientists, including future Nobel Prize winner David Politzer, in small speaking and background roles . Exceptional and colorful cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond and sensitive musical score by the master Ennio Morricone . The motion picture was professionally directed by Roland Joffe (The mission) .
Other films as ¨Fat man (this way called by bombing in Hiroshima) and Little boy¨ (so named by Nagasaki) are the followings : ¨Day one¨ , ¨Engola Day¨ , ¨Hiroshima¨ and for TV : ¨Oppenheimer¨ with Sam Waterson and one of the best is the Canadian series titled ¨Race for the bomb¨ with Maury Chaykin as General Groves and directed by Allan Eastman . Rating : Good and worthwhile seeing.
It was a fascinating story waiting to be told. FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY
takes us inside the trials and tribulations of a group of top American
scientists handed a lofty task during the Second World War: beat
everyone else to the atomic bomb. Sequestered in a heavily-guarded New
Mexico compound, the brainiacs slowly turn the idea from ambitious
concept into immense reality.
FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY is one of those films that requires your close attention. It's a real thinking person's movie, not only from the scientific aspect of developing a seemingly impossible weapon, but also the moral implications of contributing to killing on a massive scale. Characters are constantly torn between that reality and their wartime duty as Americans. The film is never preachy about, however, leaving us free to marvel at the enormity of the inner turmoil these men face. The performances deserve special mention as well. Paul Newman delivers one of his great, understated performances as the Pattonesque general in charge of delivering the ultimate big stick for the Allied Forces.
Where FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY loses much of its traction is in the unnecessary romantic component. Dwight Schultz as the leader of the scientific team struggles with his affections for his family and his relentless obsession with his big project. Director Roland Joffe apparently felt the need to explore the more human angles of this story, but the romantic overtones serve primarily as a distraction. Besides, it's the interaction among the scientists and their military hierarchy that give us the greatest insight into the thoughts and feelings of these brilliant men.
Still, it's difficult not to recommend FAT MAN AND LITTLE BOY. It's a largely forgotten gem that puts a human face put on one of the most intriguing stories in human history.
Cold War enthusiasts are like Civil War enthusiasts in that they get extremely upset when something is portrayed differently than it actually happened (or differently than they THINK it happened). When you read a negative review of this movie, that is what you are seeing. It may not be 100% factual with the timeline and all of that, but who cares? It is still an excellent movie. The acting is wonderful and the message is even better. Dwight Schultz does an amazing job with his role. The entire cast must have lost 50 lbs each to look like skinny 1940s people. If you haven't seen this film, see it. If you have and you didn't like it, please see it again and look at it with an open heart. It truly questions the moral issues of developing the bomb. It makes you think!
Fat Man & Little Boy plays like the Cliff's Notes version of an important period in history and science. The first moment we see a carefree, laughing Oppenheimer, it is obvious that the film is going to take quite a few liberties with characterization. When Paul Newman strides onto the scene, accompanied by "Patton"-like music, all credibility is immediately destroyed. My major problem with Fat Man & Little Boy is the character of Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer was a complex character, a misfit, a neurasthenic polymath. This film only scratches the surface of his personality, and the actor who plays him is horribly miscast, although he tries his best. Towards the final days of the Project, Oppenheimer had become extremely thin and cadaverous. The constant hounding by Communist hunters digging into his personal life coupled with his moral qualms about the use of the Bomb threw him into a state of nervous exhaustion bordering on paranoia. There is no hint of the inner man in this portrayal. The community of physicists at Los Alamos was a collection of brilliant and unusual men. There were many conflicts and a lot of competition going on which are pretty much ignored. It was frustrating to see all of this potentially rich material cast aside in order to simplify the film and make it accessible. In addition to ignoring the real characters involved in the Manhattan Project and misinterpreting the ones it treats, the film introduces John Cusak as the "Everyman Physicist," a fictional character created to humanize(?)the subject and engage the "average viewer," along with the obligatory love interest. This slows the movie down to a crawl and it was walking pretty slowly to begin with. This movie takes a situation rich in drama and conflict coupled with scientific and historical interest and turns it into a boring, simplistic soap opera.
Having worked with all historical aspects of nuclear energy, radiation,
etc. for 11 Years ( including working with the US D.O.E - Department of
Energy during the cleanup of the Chicago site ), I found this film to
be VERY accurate with only several exceptions ( such as groves did not
meet Szliard in a bathtub in Szliards Apartment, the Critically
accident referred to in th film happened later at Los alamos to Louis
Slotin and Harrry Daughlin, and groves was slightly heavier than
neumann's character, and not to mention much less harsh and abusive,
although he was a perfectionist, always VERY concerned about the sites
security and about the public's safety and sometimes got his way
without exception, and finally there were other sites in the early
project that should have been mentioned more...such as Chicago ).
Technically, I feel that the producers/directors created a "Perfect
Feel" for the time, as most sites I've been too are simply a-lot of
high-dollar, high-tech stuff in the middle of quite isolated areas -
very quiet with just the sound of wind blowing and creaking steel. I've
seen some peoples reviews talking about this movie as if they're
reviewing a love story.....Hello, This story is about an atomic bomb
!!!!! I too feel that the brief love story romance is not really
needed, but I'm sure that the directors put it in there to show you
what oppenheimer was also going thru emotionally in addition to all the
chaos he was already facing day-to-day on the projects sites !!! I have
seen this movie on VHS, Laserdisc and FINALLY DVD, and I must say that
the DVD release is the SHARPEST transfer made of the movie to-date;
they did a very good job on the mastering as well ( No artifacts or
blockiness - and to those Fatman and LittleBoy movie buffs, yes, they
still left in the 1 or 2 screwed-up voice-overs ). Unfortunately, after
waiting years for the DVD release to come out, there are really no
special features aside from 4:3, Widescreen 16:9, and Dolby 5:1 ( which
I was hoping for, since the soundtrack is AMAZING ), There isn't even a
trailer for the movie !!! :-( What was paramount thinking ????? Well,
maybe they'll read this review and include some more special features (
Like interviews with Paul Neumann, John Cusack, Dwight Schultz, along
with a TRAILER of the movie, and some behind-the-scenes making-of the
lots ) if they ever release it in High-Definition 1080p !!! One can
All-in-all its an excellent movie, but if your renting/buying/watching it because you thought it was a romantic movie.....DON'T BOTHER !!!!
Fat Man And Little Boy were the code names of the two atomic bombs that
were dropped in reverse order on Nagasaki and Hiroshina. How these came
to be and came to be in American hands is the story of this film.
The terms by the way are the code names of two bombs fueled with plutonium and uranium. Fat Man was the plutonium bomb and that one was dropped on Nagasaki and Little Boy was the one used on Hiroshima
The film is primarily a conflict between General Leslie R. Groves of the United States Army and physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer who led the team of scientists who developed the bomb under Groves's direction. With two men from as widely divergent backgrounds as these were, conflict was inevitable.
Paul Newman who all his life has been a disarmament activist plays General Groves. To his credit Newman does not play a man whose views he would very little in common with as any kind of caricature. Groves is a military man first and foremost with an engineering background. He wanted a combat command as trained military professionals would naturally want in this greatest of wars. But because of his background in engineering Groves got to head the Manhattan Project which was what the effort was code named. So be it, Newman is determined to make his contribution to the war effort count.
Most of us first became acquainted with Dwight Schultz from the A-Team as H.M. Murdoch the pilot whose grip on reality is tenuous at best. If one was only acquainted with the A-Team, one might think that Schultz had a great future in comic roles.
Instead Dwight Schultz is one of the best actors in the English speaking world with an astonishing range of dramatic parts since leaving that television series. J. Robert Oppenheimer in life was a complex man who recognized the dangers and benefits of atomic energy. The challenge of the problem also intrigues him. Later on Oppenheimer got into a real bind because of his left-wing political views and associates which everyone knew walking into the Manhattan Project.
Some of the lesser roles that stand out are Bonnie Bedelia as Mrs. Oppenheimer, Natasha Richardson as Oppenheimer's Communist mistress whose affair with Oppenheimer got him in such a jackpot later on, and Laura Dern as a nurse at the Los Alamos site.
But the best is John Cusack who as Michael Merriman is a composite of some real life scientists who might accurately be labeled as the first casualties of the atomic age. His scenes with Laura Dern, especially with what happens to him, take on a real poignancy.
The debate over the bombs as the use put to them is still a matter of raging debate. Fat Man And Little Boy presents the facts and lets you decide what might have happened if an alternative use of them had been taken.
If you know anything about the Manhattan Project, you will find "Fat
Man and Little Boy" at least an interesting depiction of the events
surrounding that story. The film is in all ways a very realistic
portrayal of these events, and in many ways it is almost too real (such
as some scenes involving radiation poisoning). Paul Newman, as usual,
is brilliant in his role and always manages to come off like a real
person on the screen. The supporting cast, such as John Cusack, Laura
Dern, Bonnie Bedelia, and Natasha Richardson, is fairly good as well.
This film is not, however, one of the best examples of turning a true
story into a movie. Great films are able to take a true story and use
just enough artistic license to keep its audience engaged for the
entire movie. This one, however, tends to drag a bit throughout, and
some scenes (such as John Cusack and Natasha Richardson's love story)
could have been eliminated entirely without causing the film to lose
much. Nevertheless, there are enough interesting facts and tiny
humorous bits to at least keep the audience interested enough to see
the entire film. It does not always entertain, but as far as great
depictions go, this is very accurate, fascinating, and will leave the
audience with something to think about.
*** out of ****
We watched this movie in my chemistry class, so obviously it had educational value. I thought the film did a really good job of intertwining the subjects of the science, moral issues and personal experiences of the manhattan project, but wasn't exactly focused on strong acting. I would recommend this movie for the scientifically inclined or those interested in the moral issues behind Fat Man and Little Boy, but if the subject of nuclear bombs bores you, don't see it.
The movie seemed a little slow at first. But it picked up speed and got right to the point. It showed exactly how the government and the scientist argued for humanity and the reasons of the "gadget". I enjoyed it. It is very close to reality as any movie about the Atomic Bombs that were to be dropped on Japan. I have recommended it to friends. I was particularly pleased with the acting ability of Dwight Schultz.
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