SINCE its release, Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer has become one of the most talked-about films of the summer, garnering critical acclaim and box-office success.

Focusing on the life of J Robert Oppenheimer, the film tells the story of the man widely regarded as the father of the atomic bomb and how his work came to be.

The film has a global relevance unlike any other given the debate over nuclear weapons with organisations such as the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and Secure Scotland campaigning for a world without weapons of mass destruction.

What then have anti-nuclear campaigners made of the film? Does it go far enough in depicting the horrors of the weapon that was unleashed or does it leave something to be desired in that sense?

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The National spoke with Janet Fenton, a representative for Words and Actions which currently provides a home for two organisations committed to peace and sustainability – Secure Scotland and Peace and Justice Scotland – about what she made of the film.

Thoughts on Oppenheimer

Coming in at three hours, there’s not a lot of ground that the film doesn’t cover and Fenton, who also holds a role with the Scottish CND, says that on the whole she admires what it achieved.

“I don’t want to seem ungracious because I think it’s great for us to have anything that is actually pushing these issues in front of the public”, she explained.

“I think the film has an incredible amount of skill and there was lots of it that was really good – the photography was exceptional; the acting was superb and I really liked the score.”

She admits herself that her criticisms are more about “the film they chose to make rather than the film itself” and that some elements did leave her “dispirited”.

The National: What will the film's legacy be?What will the film's legacy be?

Fenton explained: “It does some really interesting and useful analysis of the way in which internationally scientists were fascinated by nuclear power and wanted to work together in a spirit of adventure and discovery.

“But for me, it doesn’t underscore the appalling political opportunism towards those scientists in creating something that really marked the beginning of human behaviour making major geological change to the planet.

“It’s so accurate and carefully made but I also don’t think there was enough criticism of the period it represented and the macho-patriarchy ideals.”

Fenton also felt the film missed an opportunity in not making a reference to John Hersey’s 1946 book Hiroshima -  which tells the stories of six survivors of the atomic bomb.

“It’s a seminal work that really captures the awfulness, misery and catastrophic humanitarian cost of that weapon.”

New exhibition

As part of her work with Words & Actions, Fenton is promoting a new exhibition featuring images of the human destruction wrought by the dropping of the bomb at Hiroshima.

The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons is presenting the exhibition jointly with Peace & Justice and Secure Scotland.

It's based in Edinburgh on 58 Ratcliffe Terrace and is running until August 28 from 10am-4pm Monday to Friday. 

On August 6, the same day as the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, there will be a showing of A Guided Tour of the Unacceptable which deals with the Faslane nuclear weapon complex and gives an account of the history of protest and direct action directed at the base.

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Fenton said: “We need to be made aware that these weapons are utterly horrific and inhumane.

“Being brought face to face with this reality can strengthen our resolve that such a crime against humanity must never be repeated.”

More information about the exhibition can be found HERE.

What will the film’s legacy be?

The release of Oppenheimer has been highly anticipated ever since it was announced. It’s likely to stay that way given it’s already being tipped for Oscar nominations.

But once the dust settles, will the world remember the film and use it as a springboard for wider discussions about the threat of nuclear weapons?

Fenton can’t say for certain but she remains hopeful.

“Anything that draws attention or brings the public into more awareness of the fact that time is running out for nuclear weapons is a good thing.

“It’s ultimately an issue of democracy. Scotland doesn’t want them, we’ve never wanted them and they’re here against our will.

“Scotland has no need for them and if this film makes people think about it a little bit more and want them to find out more then that can only be a good thing.”