Oppenheimer finally opens in Japan — and viewers are divided

Cameron Frew
Cillian Murphy on the poster of Oppenheimer

After its Best Picture win, Oppenheimer has finally premiered in Japan — and, predictably, it’s been met with a mixed response.

Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning epic revolves around the titular “father of the atomic bomb,” tracking its creation and the emotional aftermath of its use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WW2.

It was earlier suspected the movie could be banned in Japan, given its framing of the nuke from the POV of its maker without any scenes from the perspective of the people affected and the Barbenheimer marketing, accused by some of trivializing the atrocity of the bombings.

However, more than eight months on from its original theatrical release, Oppenheimer has arrived in theaters in Japan.

Reacting to the film, former Hiroshima mayor Takashi Hiraoka said (as per The Hollywood Reporter): “From Hiroshima’s standpoint, the horror of nuclear weapons was not sufficiently depicted. The film was made in a way to validate the conclusion that the atomic bomb was used to save the lives of Americans.”

Toshiyuki Mimaki, a co-chair for Hidankyo, bringing together different A-bomb survivor groups, also told The Guardian: “I was waiting for the Hiroshima bombing scene to appear, but it never did. It’s important to show the full story, including the victims, if we are going to have a future without nuclear weapons.”

Others offered more praise, with one viewer telling AP that “the movie was great, stressing that the topic was of great interest to Japanese, although emotionally volatile as well.”

Sophia University professor Kazuhiro Maeshima also said the film illustrates the evolution of the “American conscience… the work shows an America that has changed dramatically.”

A wish first expressed by Godzilla Minus One director Takashi Yamazaki has been echoed by others too: for Japan to follow Oppenheimer in some way. “I feel there needs to be an answer from Japan to Oppenheimer. Someday, I would like to make that movie,” he said.

In the meantime, find out what other new movies you should be streaming right now.