The American Experience: Season 21, Episode 1

The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer (26 Jan. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Documentary | History
8.1
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This biography presents a complex and revealing portrait of one of America's most influential scientists.

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Episode credited cast:
Harold Agnew ...
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Jeremy Bernstein ...
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Robert Christy ...
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Michael Cumpsty ...
Freeman Dyson ...
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The Voice of Chairman Gray
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Roy J. Glauber ...
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David Goldberger ...
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Ellen Katz ...
The Stenographer
Priscilla McMillan ...
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Richard Rhodes ...
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Martin J. Sherwin ...
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This biography presents a complex and revealing portrait of one of America's most influential scientists.

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26 January 2009 (USA)  »

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This is David Strathairn's second portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer; the first was in the 1989 telefilm Day One (1989). See more »

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Fascinating.
27 November 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

J. Robert Oppenheimer is a name most folks today would not recognize--though he is one of the most important figures of the 20th century, as he was the leader of the Manhattan Project. This project was a joint US-British program to create the first atomic bomb. But Oppenheimer was NOT an easy man to understand and this episode of "The American Experience" is a biography of the man. It also has a particular emphasis on when he ran afoul of the US government following WWII. This was partly because of Oppenheimer's associations (he had several communist associates--including his wife who was at least an ex-communist) and partly because of the times--and the government was pathologically concerned with exposing communists within the government. But, as I said, this is not the only focus of the story. Actually, I found the beginning portion the most fascinating--and you really had to marvel at Oppenheimer's amazing early years as he was an incredible prodigy.

Like many "American Experience" episodes, this one consists of narration, actors re-creating scenes of Oppenheimer's life (particularly his trial), interviews and archival photos and film. All in all, it's exceptionally well done and fascinating--something that can be said of just about every film from this exceptional PBS series. Well worth seeing.


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