Oppenheimer viewer spots blunder in background of new Christopher Nolan movie

Film stars Cillian Murphy as nuclear physicist J Robert Oppenheimer

Louis Chilton
Friday 28 July 2023 20:53 BST
Oppenheimer trailer

An eagle-eyed viewer has spotted an apparent blunder in the background of Christopher Nolan’s new film Oppenheimer.

Released in cinemas on Friday (21 July),Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy as J Robert Oppenheimer, the scientist often referred to as the “Father of the Atomic Bomb”.

The film is told using three timelines, with scenes of Oppenheimer’s early life and work on the A-bomb being intermixed with scenes set during his 1954 security hearing, and the US Senate confirmation hearing of Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr) in 1959.

While Oppenheimer has been praised for its meticulous recreation of its mid-20th century setting, one fan seemingly spotted an error in a scene set in 1945.

The moment in question comes after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when Oppenheimer is called upon to deliver a speech to a cheering crowd, many of whom are waving US flags.

“It was good and all, but I’ll be that guy and complain they used 50-star flags in a scene set in 1945,” wrote Twitter user @AndrewRCraig, alongside a still of the relevant scene.

Period-accurate flags were used elsewhere in the film, such as the moment Oppenheimer stands beneath the 48-star flag at Trinity base camp.

Some fans even argued that the mistake was in fact deliberate, and had been intended to subtly convey Oppenheimer’s subjective recollections.

“Personally i think it was done intentionally,” they wrote, “because coloured scenes were from Oppenheimer’s perspective which is his present day’s memory that was after the 50-star flag was established.”

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Oppenheimer was released on the same day as Greta Gerwig’s record-breaking toy adaptation Barbie, with both films combining for the year’s biggest box office weekend.

In a four-star review of Oppenheimer for The Independent, critic Clarisse Loughrey wrote: “Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan’s best and most revealing work. It’s a profoundly unnerving story told with a traditionalist’s eye towards craftsmanship and muscular, cinematic imagination.

Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer and Emily Blunt as Kitty Oppenheimer in ‘Oppenheimer'

“Here, Nolan treats one of the most contested legacies of the 20th century – that of J Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb” – as a mathematical puzzle to be solved.”

The film, which also stars Matt Damon, Florence Pugh and Emily Blunt, has provoked a backlash among right-wing Hindu groups in India, thanks to a scene featuring the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism’s holiest scriptures.

Oppenheimer is out in cinemas now.

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