The Movie & the Moment to Stop Nuclear Rearmament

Oppenheimer should be required viewing by all those in Washington who are bent on spending $1.7 trillion over the next decades to build new nuclear weapons to kill us all, writes Marcy Winograd.

(Forumnm, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0) 

By Marcy Winograd
Z Network

The ground-breaking movie Oppenheimer, despite its unsympathetic protagonist, packs a powerful anti-nuclear punch that makes it hard, if not impossible, to sleep after watching the film.

For this reason alone, the movie should be shown on the floor of Congress and in the White House as required viewing by all in D.C. bent on spending $1.7 trillion over the next decades to build new nuclear weapons to kill us all.

Only those with a global death wish or on the payroll of Northrop Grumman, the military contractor with the nuclear “modernization” contract, could watch this film and still root for U.S. nuclear rearmament, a horror show now underway with the blessings of D.C. politicians.

Unless people rise up in fury, unless this Hollywood movie sparks a second nuclear-freeze movement, a repeat on steroids of the 80’s nuclear weapons freeze, Congress and the White House will raid the treasury to expand our nuclear arsenal. 

[Related: HIROSHIMA AT 77: John Pilger — Another Hiroshima is Coming …]

On the agenda is a new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile, a gravity bomb with two-stage radiation implosion, a long-range strike bomber and the replacement of 400 underground nuclear missiles in the Midwest with 600 new Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles.

These new ICBMS – The Sentinel – could each carry up to three warheads 20 times more powerful than the atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to incinerate 200,000 people in a span of three days.

Few Convictions, Many Demons

J. Robert Oppenheimer, atomic physicist and head of the Manhattan Project, circa 1944. (U.S. National Archives)

Irish actor Cillian Murphy plays the role of J. Robert Oppeneheimer, a hand-wringing scientist, an unfaithful lackluster womanizer, a man with few convictions but lots of demons, who traverses an emotional landscape of ambition, doubt, remorse and surrender. 

Oppenheimer oversees the Manhattan Project, the team of scientists hunkering down in the beautiful desert of Los Alamos, New Mexico, to build the hideous atomic bomb before the Germans or Russians crack the code.

In a scene reminiscent of the absurd 1950s, when pig-tailed school children scrambled under desks in mock nuclear drills, scientists don sunscreen and goggles to protect themselves during the blinding Trinity Test. This was the first atomic test conducted with no warning to the downwinders — the nearby indigenous people of the Southwest who developed cancer as a result of radioactive fallout.

This was the test before President Harry Truman ordered a 9,000-pound uranium bomb named “Little Boy” loaded onto a B-29 bomber. This was the trial performance before the same president, depicted in the movie as unctuous and arrogant, orders “Fat Boy,” a second plutonium bomb — prototype for today’s nuclear weapon — dropped on Nagasaki.

Though the movie can be slow, a three-hour endurance test, its historical insights and gut-churning imagery compensate for its lack of likable characters, save for Lt. General Leslie Groves, played by a fun-to-watch Matt Damon as Oppenheimer’s Pentagon handler. 

One of the most haunting moments juxtaposes, in living-color, celebrations of the bombings, applause and accolades for Oppenheimer standing at the podium with the guilt-consumed scientist’s black-and-white visions of irradiated souls, skeletal remains, flesh turned to ash — all amid a cacophony of explosions and pounding feet, the death march. 

Even more disturbing are the questions that tug at the moviegoer, who wonders, “Where are the Japanese victims in this film? Why are they missing from this picture? Why are they never shown writhing in pain, their lives and cities destroyed?”

Instead, the human targets are seen only through the lens of Oppenheimer who imagines faceless X-rayed ghosts torn asunder in the burning wreckage, their skin, their flesh falling off their bones, their bodies disappearing into nothingness.

The Omission of Real Victims

“Little Boy” explodes over Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, 1945, left; “Fat Man” explodes over Nagasaki, Japan, Aug. 9, 1945, right. (George R. Caron, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The omission of the real victims in the interest of maintaining a consistent point of view may make sense from a filmmaker’s perspective, but not from the standpoint of historians and truth tellers.

Writer-director Christopher Nolan could have shown us photos, authentic aerial footage of the Japanese, blinded and burned, before the final credits roll to remind us the horror is real, not just a Hollywood movie bound for several Oscar nominations.

In the name of truth, the movie does, however, smash the persistent myth that the U.S. had no other choice but to drop the atomic bombs to end WWII.

[Related: Hiroshima Survivors Decry Link to Pearl Harbor]

Through dialogue, we learn Japan was about to surrender, the emperor simply needed to save face; the point of irradiating Hiroshima and Nagasaki, targeting civilians in far-off cities, was not to save the world but to show the Soviets the U.S. possessed the technology to destroy the world, so better not cross the aspiring empire.

In closed-door sessions, all filmed in black-and-white, we watch as crusading anti-communist politicians — determined to stop Oppenheimer from advocating for arms control talks with the Soviets — crucify their atomic hero for his association with members of the Communist Party, leftist trade unions and a long ago anti-capitalist lover who threw his bourgeois flowers in the trash.

When the McCarthyites strip Oppenheimer of his security clearance, it’s a big “who cares” shrug for a movie audience weary of Oppenheimer’s internal conflicts over whether science can be divorced from politics, from the consequences of a scientist’s research. How can anyone with a heart want to continue this line of work? To hell with the security clearance.

Better POV  —  A ‘Truman Don’t Drop’ the Bomb Signatory  

 Truman in 1948. (National Archives)

The movie Oppenheimer is compelling and powerful in its timeliness, though one can’t help but think it would have been exponentially more powerful had it been told from a different point of view, from the point of view of a scientist who opposed the death-march mission.

We see glimpses of a pond-staring, fate-warning Albert Einstein, who in real life lobbied to fund the atomic bomb research only to later oppose the project. It could have been his story — or the story of one of the 70 scientists who signed a “Truman, don’t drop the bomb” petition that Oppenheimer squelched, persuading Edward Teller, the “father of the hydrogen bomb” not to present Truman with the petition drafted by Leo Szilard, the chief physicist at the Manhattan Project’s Chicago laboratory.

The movie’s reference to the petition was so fast, so quiet, so mumbled, the audience could have missed it.

If we are not careful, more mindful, more awake, we might miss our moment, our moment to avert another nuclear holocaust, this one a far worse nightmare in which 5 billion of the Earth’s 8 billion people perish, either immediately from radiation burns and fire or in the months that follow during a famine in which soot blocks the sun.

Concept rendering of the U.S. Air Force’s LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile, now in early development. (U.S. Air Force, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)

The White House and a majority of Congress want to rush us, a sleepwalking populace, into WWIII with Russia, a nation of 143 million people, 195 different ethnicities and 6,000 nuclear weapons.

For those, like the shameful editors of The Washington Post, who insist we continue to forever fund the proxy war, for those in high places who refuse calls for a ceasefire, this movie reminds us of the existential danger we confront in a sea of denial, complicity and exceptionalism. 

Despite campaigning on a platform of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, President Joe Biden’s Nuclear Posture Review echoes his predecessor Donald Trump’s approval of first use should our allies’ interests be threatened. 

CODEPINK activists are distributing flyers outside showings of Oppenheimer to invite stunned movie goers leaving the theater in a daze to take action, to join our organization and amplify our peace-building campaigns, to ground the nuclear-capable F-35, to declare China is Not our Enemy and to partner with the Peace in Ukraine Coalition.

This is the movie, this is the moment, this is the time to challenge the euphemistic nuclear modernization program, to expose the madness of militarism that abandons urgent needs at home to line the pockets of military contractors gorging at the Pentagon trough.

This is the time to demand a ceasefire and peace talks to end the war in Ukraine, to stop preparations for war with China, to finally pass legislation to ban first use, to take our ICBMs off hair-trigger alert, to insist the U.S. abide by its disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to campaign for the U.S. to become signatories to the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). 

Opposed by NATO — a huckster for nuclear proliferation — the TPNW has been signed by 95 state parties wishing to outlaw the development, deployment and use of nuclear weapons. 

Unlike Oppenheimer, we can make the right choice: the choice that saves the human race from immediate extinction.

Marcy Winograd of Progressive Democrats of America served as a 2020 DNC Delegate for Bernie Sanders and co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. Coordinator of CODEPINKCONGRESS, Marcy spearheads Capitol Hill calling parties to mobilize co-sponsors and votes for peace and foreign policy legislation.

This article was originally published by Z Network.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

23 comments for “The Movie & the Moment to Stop Nuclear Rearmament

  1. Ramon Ramos
    July 27, 2023 at 08:46

    Oppenheimer’s history is practically identical to the history of the Soviet atomic bomb creator Andrey Sakharov who was prosecuted by communist regime

  2. Tony
    July 27, 2023 at 08:26

    “Unlike Oppenheimer, we can make the right choice: the choice that saves the human race from immediate extinction.”

    That is right and I hope that readers of this article will get involved in the struggle to rid the world of the curse of nuclear weapons.

    Thank you.

  3. José DeSouza
    July 27, 2023 at 05:34

    I wonder how we humans have somehow managed not to wipe ourselves out from the face of this planet for the last 78 years. Will we be as lucky in the coming ones?

  4. July 26, 2023 at 23:10

    An excellent review article . For comparison , see film review by Christos Tsiolkas in The Saturday Paper ( Australia) .
    I think both essayists are too hard on Christopher Nolan ‘s film . And on Oppenheimer , March Winograd especially . The man was obviously a charismatic leader , a flawed man but not a weak man. He used his privileged upbringing to become a great scientist .

    • Dr. Hujjathullah M.H.B. Sahib
      July 28, 2023 at 04:04

      This movie is nothing but a PR coup for the misconcieved denuclearization movement. But to try and achieve that dubious objective through scapegoating an ethical scientist is simply not right ! Nuclear weapons are a blessing if we allow them to be; after all they held major prace for so long !

  5. CaseyG
    July 26, 2023 at 20:45

    I’ve never been in a war, nor have I ever wanted to be. As more and more people are added to the planet, I see a future that should not be. Someone or maybe another nation will decided to be “King of the Mountain.” I have no idea which nation would do that as there are so many greedy ones, including my own nation that dreams of ruling the world.

    Seeing pictures of the Earth from space , shows this planet as so very beautiful. On closer inspection though, we can see how wars and humans and wars and continual wars have diminished our only home. Sadly, humans seem to have that awful quality of , ” No one can tell me what to do.”

    We the homo sapiens share this planet—and yet so many humans in so many nations, including our own act as if the aim of humanity is to destroy and murder life on Earth.

    Be Careful of who you vote for. : (

  6. Bushrod Lake
    July 26, 2023 at 18:39

    There is no precedent evil of offing 5 billion people and other life forms, too. This is the logic of rampart materialism and “might makes right” ideology. We will do it because we can do it = moral vacuity = moral suicide.

  7. AG
    July 26, 2023 at 15:09

    Early this year there was a so-called anti-war movie called “All Quiet On The Western Front” which was in fact nominated for the Academy Awards and actually received that Award.

    Shortly before the annual Munich Security Conference was held which could also be called “NATO-summit”.

    The producers of the above mentioned anti-war movie decided to put on a venue as part of the cultural program accompanying the “NATO-summit”.

    Thus the movie guys and the war guys met and were mightily touched by all the dead and mutilated and exploding bodies and the beauty of the ugliness of death shown in the Oscar film.

    And there were some really meaningful discussions taking place in the movie-theatre, I bet.

    And all along outside there was a demonstration taking place by young agitated people from the peace movement who did what? Call for more weapons and more arms for Ukraine, so heaven and earth may collapse above Russia.

    And of course the movie-makers played along.

    Because sometimes an atrocity is just that.
    But sometimes but only sometimes, if we are really really lucky, its art, its an act of genius, its an expression of humanism and defiance and.what.not.

    It just depends on whose war it is.

    Besides: Films do not have anything to do with reality.
    They are works of art.

    An you should just leave it that way.

    If you are looking for some actual truth go to a library, read scholarship.

    But please avoid the movie-theatre.
    Its entertainment. Nothing more.

    Regardless of what the PR-offices are telling you.

    Pretty is as pretty does.
    They said that about “Barbie”.

    Its true for “Oppenheimer” as much.

  8. susan
    July 26, 2023 at 14:28

    Everyone should read ‘American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War’ by Carole Gallagher…

  9. July 26, 2023 at 12:01

    Show them pictures of children with their eyes burned out. Show them!

  10. Randal Marlin
    July 26, 2023 at 11:41

    Adolf Hitler has to be a strong contender for Most Evil Person Ever to Have Lived, for his policy of the “Final Solution,” systematically murdering Jews and others whom he and his henchmen considered undesirables.
    Yet even he, as I understand things, would not go ahead with development of the nuclear bomb.

    The world today suffers from a witch’s brew of hatreds, illusion-fueled desires for prestige, domination and glory. There is blindness to the limitations preoccupation with technology places on the right kind of knowledge, the sort that is inseparable human decency. The losing gambler loses perspective in continuing to think that upping the stakes will restore all that was lost. What if the next stake is survival of the human species?

    • Paula
      July 26, 2023 at 16:26

      Randal, you do not understand that Hitler is not nor ever has been a lone contender for Most Evil. USA is currently and has been systematically murdering non whites in poorer countries, esp. those with high birth rates so they can’t contend with USA taking over their resources, nor challenging USA hegemony. The next stake is survival of the diversity of the human species tho white people seem hell bent to remain at the top of that survival. Just as climatologists said several years ago, it is third world, underdeveloped countries that will suffer most, and despite lack of coverage by MSM, that is exactly what is happening in real time. Read the meteorological reports for what is going happening on this small planet we live on. More disasters will be heading our way and we are ill prepared by our government and media. But one of the most important things to do is convince city and county leaders to implement local food security programs, esp. for urban populations. Because most people are unaware, their will be chaos and our gov’t knows this and it is why they supplied weapons of war to local police forces.

      I’m sorry few and none of our media are reporting the fires and deaths in other countries but they don’t want us to panic. We should not panic but make level headed decisions about not only what is supported by facts, but level headed decisions on how to survive. It’s all coming faster than predicted.

      see hxxps://

      It’s a shit show.

      • onward
        July 27, 2023 at 07:54

        Science indeed? We have a group of corporations, bankers and think tanks who wish on behalf of the US to control world finance, and their doing it by creating fear.
        Fear of illness and earth warming via CO2.
        Please check out the science at Your life may well depend on it.

      • Randal Marlin
        July 27, 2023 at 08:22

        “Strong” is not the same as “lone.”

    • Tony
      July 27, 2023 at 08:21

      The Manhattan Project was absolutely enormous and a German counterpart would, presumably, have had to be of similar size.

      Realistically, what were the chances that such a huge infrastructure would have gone undetected by the allies for the duration of the war?

  11. Jim Thomas
    July 26, 2023 at 11:40

    A great number of us would certainly like to kneecap the psychopathic thieves who make the terrible policies in this Country, one very important one of which is the constant threat of nuclear war; however, we have no influence whatsoever on “our” representatives in Washington, DC. The third paragraph of the article reads as follows:
    “Only those with a global death wish or on the payroll of Northrop Grumman, the military contractor with the nuclear “modernization” contract, could watch this film and still root for U.S. nuclear rearmament, a horror show now underway with the blessings of D.C. politicians.”
    Well, “our” representatives in the Congress are among whose who are “…on the payroll of Northrop Grumman” and other military contractors. When they vote to approve the bill to pay for this new outrageous program to expand the nuclear arsenal, they do so with the rightful expectation that they will receive a part of those funds as the legalized bribe money for their vote. To expect them to vote to reduce the amount of their own funding is an unreasonable expectation. Yes, I know, principled people would do so. But we are not talking about principled people. We are talking about politicians who are chosen and vetted by the two major political parties, both of which are owned and operated for the benefit of the 1% and are enemies of the people. We have no say in this process and no hope for having any effect on the policies of our government.

    • Tony Litwinko
      July 26, 2023 at 15:48

      Right on, Jim Thomas. This is the bullseye. Let’s hope that the success of the movie affords us further chances to get people really pissed off and into the streets.

    • Paula
      July 26, 2023 at 16:38

      You are so right on, Jim Thomas. I hate that what you say is true. I harbor no hope in waking up the beauty in some of our most precious people in the USA that have hearts and souls because they are constantly lied to. The only thing I can do is stand on a street corner and educate. Even then, there’s threat of arrest.

      I think we either stand up across the world, because those with love and care for each other are the people at risk and WE ARE BILLIONS AND POOR. Elites tend to have no such feelings for us, see us as USELESS EATERS. If we don’t stand up and start participating in our own demise and it’s prevention, we will surely die. If we do so, some of us will surely die. If we do nothing, all of us will surely die.

  12. gcw919
    July 26, 2023 at 11:26

    Humans seem to have an innate ability to deny what is looming on the horizon. Witness the sleepwalking approach we have to potential nuclear war or climate catastrophe. (Nevil Shute’s On The Beach from the late 50’s, where a radiation cloud from nuclear war is approaching Australia, describes our current lack of concern perfectly).
    While I haven’t seen the Oppenheimer film as yet, I once visited Hiroshima, and was left with a lifelong impression of nuclear war’s destruction. At “Ground Zero” one can view the skeletons of buildings still standing as a reminder of the blast. There is also a museum on the site, where there is a concrete step from a nearby bank, where the shadow of a person vaporized by the bomb is etched into the slab.
    Perhaps we should require those advocating “upgrading” nuclear weapons to make the journey themselves before pursuing their madness.

  13. TP Graf
    July 26, 2023 at 10:19

    I don’t need a movie to persuade me of the horrific use of nuclear weapons. I commend to you Jon Reynold’s review posted on

  14. Dienne
    July 26, 2023 at 09:53

    The film isn’t really anti-nuclear. It still trots out the tired and debunked lie that nuking civilian cities is what ended the war and “saved millions of lives”. It doesn’t show the horrors that the civilians of those cities endured and it doesn’t mention word one about the devastating effects of the original testing in New Mexico. This film is pro-empire propaganda.

  15. susan
    July 26, 2023 at 08:39

    What about this current program that none of the alternative media are talking about = Starlink/Starshield: hxxps:// ?? If you think Elon Musk is benevolent, you had better think again – he is in it for the MONEY just like all of the other oligarchs on this fragile, beautiful blue ball in space…

  16. J Anthony
    July 26, 2023 at 08:22

    I’m of the opinion that USAmericans, particularly the religious fanatics, don’t care if the end is nigh, and in fact seem to be looking forward to it. How else to explain such willful ignorance and wanton hubris in the face of it all?

Comments are closed.