Oppenheimer in 70mm IMAX 1.43:1 – The DVDfever Cinema Review – Christopher Nolan, Cillian Murphy

Oppenheimer Oppenheimer opens with a quote about Prometheus, the Godo of Fire: “Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. For this he was chained to a rock and tortured for eternity.”, but numbering the next two scenes: 1. Fission and 2. Fusion.

This was a bit confusing at first, since I was expecting to see more numbers popping up, but no more did, and before long, I realised what we’re seeing is two timelines constantly switching between each other, but without any indication as to what the year or date is. Come on, now, throw us a bone at least!

Hence, out of the main cast, I had no idea who Lewis Strauss, played by Robert Downey Jr (Weird Science), was, for example. I later learned he’s a senior member of the United States Atomic Energy Commission, but while I don’t want filmmakers to treat us like know-nothing boneheads, I’m quite sure most of the audience won’t be fully aware of every individual involved from start to finish. Hence, just introduce the characters. The Big Short did this, for example, as do many films when they’re dealing with many different people, few of whom will be recognisable to the audience.

As such, you’re just left thinking ‘Oppenheimer good, Strauss bad’ until you get chance to look things up afterwards, since the latter just comes across as “was a bit nowty because he thought Oppy said something bad about him to Einstein. Was he right?”

So, Fission is the time before the titular individual created the atomic bomb, and Fusion comes afterwards – including dealing with the literal fallout of both being a genius, but being criticised for creating something that could wipe out humanity – along with the guilt he would feel, as well as the powers that be taking all the credit when they want to use it against the enemy in World War II.

By the time they use it, the Nazis are finished, but the Japanese are fighting on, hence why it was used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in a bid to end it.

Meanwhile, Oppenheimer (Cillian MurphyA Quiet Place Part II) is good friends with Einstein (Tom ContiMerry Christmas Mr Lawrence), but is up against Werner Heisenberg (Matthias SchweighöferArmy Of The Dead), who is also trying to create an atomic bomb for the Germans, and they split the atom first, so our lead reckons they have an 18-month head-start. Plus, Ernest Lawrence (Josh HartnettDie Hart: The Movie) is building a particle accelerator (defined as “a machine that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to very high speeds and energies, used to produce radioisotopes for a type of medical drugs called radiopharmaceuticals, which diagnose and treat cancer”), and Oppy wants to use it to test some of his theories.

And I thought the time my electrics went, that THAT was a loud bang!

As is said in one fairly close-up outside test, “What have we learned? …That we’re going to have to stand further back(!)”

The film also brings in Emily Blunt (The English) as Oppenheimer’s wife, Kitty, plus Florence Pugh (Don’t Worry Darling) as his earlier lover, Jean Tatlock, which leads to certain scenes that have given this a 15-certificate rating, and probably could’ve been left out and retained a 12-cert, as there’s only four F-words maximum, as far as I can recall. Still, once you see the film and the effects it all has, I can see why they were left in. Not everything can be like the hula-hoop… y’know, for kids!

Also, this is one of those films where you find a line in the trailer is completely opposed in the actual script.

In the trailer, we hear Kenneth Branagh (Tenet) as Neils Bohr saying to Oppy, “You are the man who gave them the power to destroy themselves, and they are not prepared”, but in their conversation, the second part of the sentence comes first and follows on from another line.

There’s also a large gap between the moments in the trailer where you see Einstein’s hat blow off, and his face being shown close-up, looking a bit miffed. Yes, I am certainly that nerdy.

For those going to see this in IMAX, there’s about 75 mins in IMAX 1.43:1 format (which will be in 1.90:1 for digital IMAX cinemas, so you won’t get the full picture), which is used in some brief shots, plus establishing shots, as well as main scenes including the atomic bomb test. However, it does feel a bit randomly used on occasion, such as mixing both 1.43:1 and 2.20:1 for scenes that are in both timelines, so the change of ratio isn’t used to delineate between the timelines.

Additionally, I came across some dirt on the screen when I saw it in 70mm IMAX, last Sunday, at one point while Cillian was talking (around halfway through) which wasn’t present in the 2.20:1 version I saw the day before (which was presented within a 2.39:1 frame, with slight black bars at the sides, so if you’re watching this on a 1.85:1 screen, it’ll be slightly windowboxed like Smoking Causes Coughing, since they haven’t mastered the art of manually zooming the picture in, but then Odeon never did with Tomorrowland in 2015, so nothing ever changes). So, if it wasn’t originally filmed like that, so how did it end up on there? I figured it wasn’t in the projector, as it came and went, but only over the course of a couple of minutes.

Niftwatch on Reddit replied: “You mean dirt appeared and stayed there for a few minutes? Likely that dirt got on the lens, the projectionist can press a button to move the lens around to the “clean side” if dust gets on it.”

Me: “Yep, just a few mins, but moved about, then disappeared, then reappeared, and eventually went. I figured it was on the print itself, not the projector, given the erratic nature of it, as opposed to just staying put. I see kaamillionaire has also commented the same thing.”

Spinnyweatherchaser: “So the reason for that is IMAX projectors physically vacuum the film to a square lens called the field flattener just behind the main lens, it does this to stabilize the film and reduce flickering you see in normal 35mm/70mm, which would be intolerable on a full size IMAX screen. So what’s happening is dust from the projector room (which can’t be 100% prevented in most cases) is getting on the film as it passes from the reels to the projector and then is left behind on the field flattener. Then as the rolling loop moves another frame onto the lens over and over again, sometimes the dust is pushed around the lens and sometimes it’s picked up by the film entirely. Then over time another piece of dust might get brought in by the film.

Like OP said (mentioning dust on a print), the projectionist can move the field flattener up and down through dust wipers, but even with the dust brushes that scrub the film being fed into the projector it still can’t be 100% prevented. When I used to do projection we would get dust blobs (as I called them) once every 10min or so, with ones bad enough to require changing the flattener (the one I ran was really old so you actually pushed a new lens into place replacing the dirty one) like twice per 45min documentary.”

Hence, I always assumed if some dust got in there, it would stay in place, and I didn’t know about the brushes on the film as it feeds in. I guess normally, we don’t see this because most films are just being played from a hard drive.

I also noticed that for a three-hour film, the end credits were quite brief. Interstellar lasted 169 minutes, but at the time, IMAX film platters could only run so long, and the film had to be brought in a few minutes shorter, so the IMAX version was technically 163 minutes. You lost none of the film, itself, but instead of having long, scrolling ‘crawl’ credits, they were just flashed up on the screen, with two sets of names placed next to each other and run through quickly so that they could all be listed before the platter ended.

With this, it appears the IMAX platters can now run a little longer, but there is still a limit, and it appears Christopher Nolan has kept the credits the same on both versions. However, while the regular version runs 3:00:09, according to the BBFC site, the IMAX version is 3:00:39. I’m not sure why, yet, but it could be just adding in various IMAX logos at the end of the film print.

But now on to Barbenheimer! Yes, this involves seeing both Barbie and Oppenheimer back-to-back. I figured the back rows of each auditorium would be busy-ish, but the rows I sit in – closer to the front – are generally clear. But thanks to whoever came up with “Barbenheimer” (probably some Tiktok thing, thus I don’t understand it), every screen for the entire weekend was absolutely RAMMED!

However, last Saturday, I got to the cinema just as Barbie was about to start, and apart from the latecomers in that film, I ended up with okay seats in both. That said, for Oppenheimer, I did swap the decent row E (where I had nowhere to spread out) for row B, which was mostly free. A little bit uncomfy on the neck afterwards, but not terrible, and barely anyone else was sat on there, so I was able to spread out and make my review notes.

Then on Sunday, I saw it in Vue Printworks in 70mm IMAX on the massive screen and as well as getting more picture for almost half of the film, it was an immense experience. No room to swing a cat, so a good job I made all my notes on the Saturday.

And I’m proud of myself that I managed the full 3hrs twice without having to pay a visit. 😀

Oppenheimer is in cinemas now, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.

Oppenheimer – Official IMAX Trailer – IMAX

Detailed specs:

Running time: 181 minutes
Release date: July 21st 2023
Studio: Universal Pictures UK
Format: 1.43:1 (IMAX 70 mm: some scenes), 1.90:1 (Digital IMAX: some scenes), 2.20:1 (70 mm and Digital), 2.39:1 (35 mm) (IMAX MKIII, Panavision Sphero 65 and Hasselblad LensesIMAX MKIV, Panavision Sphero 65 and Hasselblad LensesIMAX MSM 9802, Panavision Sphero 65 and Hasselblad LensesPanavision Panaflex System 65 Studio, Panavision Panaspeed and System 65 Lenses)
Cinema: Vue Printworks Manchester and Cineworld Didsbury
Rating: 8/10

Director: Christopher Nolan
Producers: Christopher Nolan, Charles Roven, Emma Thomas
Screenplay: Christopher Nolan
Novel: Kai Bird, Martin Sherwin
Music: Ludwig Göransson

J. Robert Oppenheimer: Cillian Murphy
Kitty Oppenheimer: Emily Blunt
Lewis Strauss: Robert Downey Jr
Jean Tatlock: Florence Pugh
Senate Aide: Alden Ehrenreich
Leslie Groves: Matt Damon
Kenneth Nichols: Dane DeHaan
Edward Teller: Benny Safdie
Werner Heisenberg: Matthias Schweighöfer
Ernest Lawrence: Josh Hartnett
Frank Oppenheimer: Dylan Arnold
Jackie Oppenheimer: Emma Dumont
Haakon Chevalier: Jefferson Hall
Counsel: Scott Grimes
Roger Robb: Jason Clarke
Henry Stimson: James Remar
Thomas Morgan: Kurt Koehler
Gordon Gray: Tony Goldwyn
Lyndon Johnson: Hap Lawrence
Burn Victim: Flora Nolan
Ward Evans: John Gowans
Lloyd Garrison: Macon Blair
Patrick Blackett: James D’Arcy
Niels Bohr: Kenneth Branagh
Senator McGee: Harry Groener
Chairman Magnuson: Gregory Jbara
Senator Bartlett: Ted King
Senator Pastore: Tim DeKay
Senator Scott: Steven Houska
Albert Einstein: Tom Conti
Isidor Rabi: David Krumholtz