Christopher Nolan's tiny Oppenheimer teaser hits all the enigmatic notes

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

A first brief glimpse at Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has been offered up in the form of a new teaser and you can see it below:

Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy and is a biopic of scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer. It will chart Oppenheimer's role in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. The scientist led the Manhattan Project, a research and development undertaking that came together during World War II, which ultimately ended up producing the first nuclear weapons.

Nolan is in the director's chair, working alongside his producing partner Emma Thomas. The film is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer. It will be released into movie theaters on July 21 in 2023. 

As with all of Christopher Nolan's movies, the cast list is stellar, as well as Murphy you've got Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Rami Malek, Josh Hartnett, Matthew Modine, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Dylan Arnold, Olli Haaskivi, Benny Safdie, Kenneth Branagh, Alden Ehrenreich, David Krumholtz and Michael Angarano. 

Murphy plays Oppenheimer himself with Emily Blunt portraying his wife, Kitty. Matt Damon will play Lieutenant General Leslie Richard Groves Jr, a United States Army Corps of Engineers officer who directed the Manhattan Project, while Robert Downey Jr. will be playing former United States Secretary of Commerce, Lewis Strauss.

Florence Pugh is booked to play Jean Tatlock, a member of the Communist Party of the United States who had an affair with Oppenheimer, and Safdie will offer up a portrayal of Hungarian physicist Edward Teller, now known as the father of the hydrogen bomb. Dylan Arnold will play Oppenheimer's brother Frank and Harnett will portray pioneering nuclear scientist Ernest Lawrence. 

The teaser doesn't give much away and largely consists of a series of characters speaking over clips of fire and destruction, alongside some new footage of Murphy in character. 

Fire is very much the theme of this new announcement, as you can see in the movie's newly unveiled poster below:


(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Oppenheimer marks new territory for Nolan in a number of ways. 

Firstly it is Nolan's first for Universal Pictures after his nine-movie run with Warner Bros came to an end with the release of Tenet in 2020; and secondly, the movie is being shot on a combination of IMAX 65mm and 65mm large-format film. It is the first time a movie has been made with sections in IMAX black and white analogue photography. Nolan is an IMAX devotee and has used the technology throughout his career. 

Analysis: Is Oppenheimer new territory for Nolan?

While you could argue that with 2017's Dunkirk, Nolan was depicting real events, but none of his characters had ever existed, so making a drama around the life of a very-real and very significant figure from history does change the dynamic for Nolan somewhat. 

But one look at that teaser reveals that all the classic Nolan hallmarks are there. The stylish set-ups, the frenetic score, and his incredible ability to ramp up tension with every frame. 

It seems unlikely that will be an intimate portrait with scenes of Murphy's Oppenheimer hunched over laboratory tables. Like everything Nolan does, it's got scale, pomp and verve. Roll on next summer. 

Tom Goodwyn
Freelance Entertainment Writer

Tom Goodwyn was formerly TechRadar's Senior Entertainment Editor. He's now a freelancer writing about TV shows, documentaries and movies across streaming services, theaters and beyond. Based in East London, he loves nothing more than spending all day in a movie theater, well, he did before he had two small children…