Christopher Nolan recently revealed that, in conceiving his next film Oppenheimer, he created the first-ever nuclear weapon detonation without the use of computer graphics. “I think recreating the Trinity test [the first nuclear weapon detonation, in New Mexico] without the use of computer graphics, was a huge challenge to take on,” he told Total Film.

He continued, “Andrew Jackson – my visual effects supervisor, I got him on board early on – was looking at how we could do a lot of the visual elements of the film practically, from representing quantum dynamics and quantum physics to the Trinity test itself, to recreating, with my team, Los Alamos up on a mesa in New Mexico in extraordinary weather, a lot of which was needed for the film, in terms of the very harsh conditions out there – there were huge practical challenges.”

The director didn’t share any more details, but with the arrival of the new trailer, which screened with James Cameron’s latest, the approach is more clear. Seemingly using Douglas Trumbull-style microscopic visual effects akin to The Tree of Life, 2001, and The Fountain‘s cosmic sequences, the trailer reveals how Nolan is conceiving the look of a nuclear explosion. J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy) was the head of the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, developing the atomic bomb in a film that will span 45 years of his life.

See the trailer below for the film also starring Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Florence Pugh, Rami Malek, Benny Safdie, Josh Hartnett, Dane DeHaan, Jack Quaid, Matthew Modine, Alden Ehrenreich, David Krumholtz, Kenneth Branagh, Gary Oldman, Casey Affleck, and Michael Angarano.

Oppenheimer opens on July 21, 2023.

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