J. Robert Oppenheimer, a man of brilliant intellect, unwavering pride, and undeniable charisma, once stood as a national hero. Guiding the United States through the crucible of World War II, he played a pivotal role in the nation’s historic achievement: harnessing the terrifying power of nuclear energy to forge the atomic bomb, an unparalleled weapon of mass destruction. Yet, as the war concluded and victory was claimed, America’s sentiments towards him took a harsh turn. He was subjected to public humiliation, abandonment, and an inexplicable reversal of fortune. The film we present here grapples with the burning question: “Why?”
In this captivating AMERICAN EXPERIENCE production, we delve into The Trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer, with the esteemed Academy Award-nominated actor David Strathairn, known for his roles in “Good Night and Good Luck” and “The Bourne Ultimatum,” masterfully embodying the enigmatic Robert Oppenheimer.
Crafted by the multi-Emmy Award-winning producer David Grubin, known for his acclaimed works on RFK, LBJ, and Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided, this documentary brings to the forefront a complex and illuminating portrayal of one of the 20th century’s most pivotal and controversial scientific figures. Through interviews with his former colleagues and esteemed scholars, this two-hour cinematic journey traces the arc of Oppenheimer’s life, from his privileged upbringing to his tumultuous adolescence, his ascent to becoming a foremost nuclear physicist in America, his stewardship of the Los Alamos laboratory, and ultimately, his tragic fall from grace.
Directed by: David Grubin