Christopher Nolan explains “odd” approach to Oppenheimer script

Chris Tilly

Christopher Nolan has been discussing the “odd” approach he took to writing the Oppenheimer script, with the writer-director revealing that he crafted everything in the first-person.

Oppenheimer helmer Christopher Nolan is famous for the complex structure of his films, with Memento, Inception, and Tenet all examples of head-scratchers where you have to pay attention to fully appreciate their complicated and nuanced narratives.

With star-studded new movie Oppenheimer – about J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the birth of the atomic bomb – he’s taken a different, and very unique approach to the script-writing process.

Here he explains how – and why – he wrote the film’s screenplay from the point of view of the title character, and in the first-person.

Christopher Nolan explains “odd” approach to Oppenheimer script

“There’s the idea of how we get in somebody’s head and see how they were visualising this radical reinvention of physics,” Nolan tells Empire. “One of the things that cinema has struggled with historically is the representation of intelligence or genius. It very often fails to engage people.”

So to engage his cast and crew – in the hope that it would translate to a movie audience and put them in the protagonist’s shoes – Nolan took an unusual approach to the story.

“I actually wrote in the first-person, which I’ve never done before, Nolan explains. “I don’t know if anyone’s ever done it before. But the point of it is, with the colour sequences, which is the bulk of the film, everything is told from Oppenheimer’s point of view – you’re literally kind of looking through his eyes.”

“Odd thing to do,” Nolan continues. “But it was a reminder to me of how to shoot the film. It was a reminder to everybody involved in the project, ‘Okay, this is the point of view of every scene.’

“I wanted to really go through this story with Oppenheimer; I didn’t want to sit by him and judge him. That seemed a pointless exercise. That’s more the stuff of documentary, or political theory, or history of science. This is a story that you experience with him – you don’t judge him. You are faced with these irreconcilable ethical dilemmas with him.” 

Oppenheimer is released on July 12, 2023. To read about the film’s runtime head here, while to find out how Christopher Nolan has been promoting the movie on Twitter, click here. And if you want to know how Oppenhimer has allegedly annoyed Tom Cruise, head here.

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About The Author

Chris Tilly is the TV and Movies Editor at Dexerto. He has a BA in English Literature, an MA in Newspaper Journalism, and over the last 20 years, he's worked for the likes of Time Out, IGN, and Fandom. Chris loves Star Wars, Marvel, DC, sci-fi, and especially horror, while he knows maybe too much about Alan Partridge. You can email him here: