Oppenheimer’s grandson calls major movie moment a “serious accusation”

Chris Tilly
Kenneth Branagh holding an apple in Oppenheimer.

J. Robert Oppenheimer’s grandson Charles says he likes Christopher Nolan’s new movie, aside from one specific scene, which he calls a “serious accusation” against his grandfather.

Oppenheimer is a new biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the so-called godfather of the atomic bomb. A three-hour epic that focusses on the Manhattan Project, the film endeavours to get inside the title character’s head, to get a sense of how it felt to successfully split the atom. Then how it felt when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nolan based his script on the 2006 non-fiction book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer – by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin – which won the Pulitzer Prize for literature.

But in spite of near universal acclaim for the book and film, Charles Oppenheimer has an issue with both.

Oppenheimer’s grandson calls major movie moment a “serious accusation”

Charles says he found himself “accepting and liking” Oppenheimer the movie, adding that he thinks it “told a compelling story.” But in an interview with Time about both his family and the film, Charles reveals that he doesn’t like the scene in which his grandfather considers killing his teacher by poisoning an apple, and seems to act on that impulse.

“The part I like the least is this poison apple reference, which was a problem in American Prometheus,” Charles explains. “If you read American Prometheus carefully enough, the authors say, ‘We don’t really know if it happened.’ There’s no record of him trying to kill somebody. That’s a really serious accusation and it’s historical revision. There’s not a single enemy or friend of Robert Oppenheimer who heard that during his life and considered it to be true. 

“American Prometheus got it from some references talking about a spring break trip, and all the original reporters of that story – there was only two maybe three – reported that they didn’t know what Robert Oppenheimer was talking about. Unfortunately, American Prometheus summarizes that as Robert Oppenheimer tried to kill his teacher and then they [acknowledge that] maybe there’s this doubt.”

Though Charles adds that he has more of a problem with that accusation in the book than the film, stating: “Sometimes facts get dragged through a game of telephone. In the movie, it’s treated vaguely and you don’t really know what’s going on unless you know this incredibly deep backstory. So it honestly didn’t bother me. It bothers me that it was in the biography with that emphasis, not a disclaimer of, this is an unsubstantiated rumor that we want to put in our book to make it interesting.”

Oppenheimer is in cinemas now, and you can read more about the movie below:

Oppenheimer review | Epic runtime revealed | R-rating explained | Best way to watch Oppenheimer | Christopher Nolan on sex scenes | Cast and characters | Filming locations | True story explained | Is Oppenheimer streaming? | Nolan ranked by Rotten Tomato scores | Is it based on a book? | Age-gap controversy explained Robert Pattinson’s influence | How Oppenheimer died | Christopher Nolan explains strange script | Did Japan ban Oppenheimer? | Review roundup | Does Oppenheimer have a post-credits scene? | Who dies? | Box office | Ending explained

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