Why Oppenheimer fans should watch new Netflix documentary

Daisy Phillipson
Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer

The director of an upcoming Netflix documentary series explains to Dexerto why Oppenheimer fans should tune in. 

Christopher Nolan continued his winning streak with the release of Oppenheimer, a towering, devastating biopic on the father of the atomic bomb and the Manhattan Project. 

Though the epic historical drama is a butt-numbing three-hours long, it’s just one fragment of a far wider story. Oppenheimer takes us back to the beginning of a complex, global, decades-long conflict, one that shapes the very world we live in today. 

This is where Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War comes in. Ahead of its release, Dexerto caught up with director Brian Knappenberger, who explained why Oppenheimer fans should give the Netflix documentary series a watch. 

Why Oppenheimer fans should watch new Netflix documentary

Brian tells us that Oppenheimer is “the beginning of our story,” while Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War answers the question: “Where does it go from there?”

The nine-part Netflix docuseries is a comprehensive examination of Cold War history, looking at the tension between the US and Russia and the aftermath following the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to the rise of Vladimir Putin

Featuring dozens of interviews with prominent politicians, journalists, and people who lived through it, starting in the early 1990s and continuing through to the present day, Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War is one of the most extensive deep dives into this facet of history and what it all means. 

At the center of everything is nuclear weaponry, which started with J. Robert Oppenheimer’s Manhattan Project and the Trinity test. Brian explains that he loved Nolan’s portrayal of these events, stating: “I thought the inner turmoil that Oppenheimer went through was done well, and the suspicions that he went through in the later years were an interesting framing. 

“Oppenheimer was a great film that portrays the moment nuclear weapons are created for the first time. But it stops there, so that’s the beginning of our story.” The opening episodes of Turning Point examine these moments, before taking viewers to Hiroshima, speaking to those who were present when the bomb dropped on the Japanese city. 

It goes on to examine the ripple effect of the creation of the atomic bomb. “There isn’t a Cold War, really, without nuclear weapons,” Brian tells us. “The Cold War has to be cold because of the rapid proliferation of these weapons – first, the kind that Oppenheimer created, but then they later become hydrogen bombs, thermonuclear devices, which are vastly more deadly.”

“This defines the rest of the century and the moment that we’re in now. We still live in those times where this is a threat; where mistakes or erratic leaders could eliminate life on Earth,” he adds. 

“Oppenheimer and the Trinity test are important, but they are the pond at the center of the ripple. Our lives live in the reverberations of those moments now, and that’s what this story is about: how did this affect political movements and people and freedoms and ideologies and, to some degree, the notion of how we should live, which is an ideological debate between communism and capitalism. 

“So the creation of the bomb is the turning point, but what we’re really looking at is: where does it go from there?”

Turning Point: The Bomb and the Cold War drops on Netflix on March 12. Until then, you can check out all of the documentaries and all of the TV shows hitting streaming this month.

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