'Oppenheimer' movie about the man behind the atomic bomb has … – Knoxville News Sentinel

The story of J. Robert Oppenheimer is a cautionary tale.
Director Christopher Nolan’s film “Oppenheimer,” which opens this week, is a thriller about the physicist’s role in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Or as Universal Pictures puts it, a story about “the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.”
Under Oppenheimer’s leadership, the Y-12 National Security Complex Oak Ridge was instrumental in the development of the atomic bomb, making the rural area in East Tennessee known worldwide and earning him the title of “father of the atomic bomb.”
J. Robert Oppenheimer was selected in 1942 to lead the secret research and development of the first atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory in New Mexico, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
The Y‑12 plant was built to make enough enriched uranium for the bomb. Oak Ridge was a perfect site for this operation because of its remote location and sparse population and because it could efficiently be powered by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the National Park Service notes.
Oppenheimer visited Y-12 several times during the project and worked with Major General Kenneth Nichols (played in the movie by actor Dane DeHaan), who oversaw construction and operation of the plant, according to Oak Ridge historian D. Ray Smith.
He even sent his brother, Frank Oppenheimer (played by Dylan Arnold), to Y-12 in 1944 and 1945 to monitor the plant’s equipment. Frank had experience with uranium isotope separation.
Despite their contributions to the Manhattan Project, don’t expect many Y-12 or Oak Ridge references in the “Oppenheimer” movie. The plot largely takes place at the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, and most filming occurred in and around Los Alamos and Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to the National Park Service.
However, key Y-12 figures will appear onscreen, including Nichols, Frank Oppenheimer and Ernest Lawrence, who created a device to separate uranium and went to Oak Ridge to accelerate developments at Y-12.
“Oppenheimer” will premiere in Knoxville and Oak Ridge July 20, a day before its nationwide release. Showtimes as early as 5 p.m. are available atRegal cinema locations and Cinemark Tinseltown in Oak Ridge.
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The film is written and directed by Christopher Nolan (“Dunkirk,” “The Dark Night” trilogy) and has an A-list cast, starring Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, plus Matt Damon (Leslie Groves), Emily Blunt (Kitty Oppenheimer), Robert Downey Jr. (Lewis Strauss), Florence Pugh (Jean Tatlock) and Josh Hartnett (Ernest Lawrence).
“Oppenheimer” is based on the biography “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer” and is targeting a $40 million opening weekend at the box office, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Devarrick Turner is a trending news reporter. Email devarrick.turner@knoxnews.com. Twitter @dturner1208. 
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