In real life, Robert Oppenheimer was the scientific head of the Manhattan Project, the secret wartime project in New Mexico where the first atomic bombs were designed and built. General Leslie Groves was in overall command of it. This film reenacts the project with an emphasis on their relationship.Written by
Some movie posters for the film featured a long text preamble that read: "In 1942, the United States secretly set out to build the world's first atomic bombs. They called them 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy.' And the man they called on to get the job done was General Leslie Groves. Strong. Brilliant. Determined. Willing to push human endurance to the limit. Willing to bear the responsibility, the glory and the blame. His mission changed the world. His story is the story of his times. And ours." See more »
At the party, Dr. Schoenfield (John C. McGinley) is wearing his Captain's bars 90 Degrees off. They should be parallel to the lower edge of the shirt collar not the edge that touches his neck, as is shown. See more »
The Best Engineering flick in decades, great history and melodrama, too
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 trick.
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.
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