Christopher Nolan says people "can't speak" after watching Oppenheimer

(Image credit: Universal)

Christopher Nolan has shared some early reactions from Oppenheimer, and they’re pretty brutal. The filmmaker opened up about how audiences have responded so far at special screenings of the upcoming movie.

"Some people leave the movie absolutely devastated," he explained to Wired about the audiences so far. "They can't speak. I mean, there's an element of fear that's there in the history and there in the underpinnings. But the love of the characters, the love of the relationships, is as strong as I've ever done."

Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy as titular nuclear physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer and follows how he set up the Manhattan Project during World War Two, and subsequently created the atomic bomb.

Nolan added that he thinks the complexity of this story has contributed to the poignant reactions. "Oppenheimer's story is all impossible questions," the director continued. "Impossible ethical dilemmas, paradox. There are no easy answers in his story. There are just difficult questions, and that's what makes the story so compelling. I think we were able to find a lot of things to be optimistic about in the film, genuinely, but there's this sort of overriding bigger question that hangs over it. It felt essential that there be questions at the end that you leave rattling in people's brains, and prompting discussion."

Nolan previously opened up to Total Film in our cover feature on the movie about how he’s drawn to complex figures in his movies. "I think of any character I've dealt with, Oppenheimer is by far the most ambiguous and paradoxical," he said. "Which, given that I've made three Batman films, is saying a lot."

You can still buy our Oppenheimer issue right here ahead of the movie’s release on July 21, 2023. For more upcoming movies, here’s our round-up of all the 2023 movie release dates.

Total Film's Oppenheimer feature.

(Image credit: Universal/Melinda Sue Gordon/Total Film)
Fay Watson
Deputy Entertainment Editor

I’m the Deputy Entertainment Editor here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for the Total Film and SFX sections online. I previously worked as a Senior Showbiz Reporter and SEO TV reporter at Express Online for three years. I've also written for The Resident magazines and Amateur Photographer, before specializing in entertainment.