Fat Man and Little Boy
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A more accurate movie is "Day One", at least as far as the plot goes, but even that fails to grasp the Manhattan Project's scope. The best film on it, which unfortunately no longer exists, was "The Beginning or the End" which was made in 1946 (Brian Donlevy played Groves). The main people on the project served as technical advisors for that one. Unfortunately, that was never put on video and probably rotted away in some warehouse.
So many issues, creativity, authority, diplomacy,secrecy, espionage, urgency...all provide the natural elements to a serious, gripping story. But this screenplay chooses to throw in silly romantic subplots, and alter the facts in the service of their silly Hollywood formula.Ughh. Especially annoying is the distortion of the circumstances surrounding the lab accident that befell Louis Slotkin, the Canadian, now morphed into a hybrid romantic figure in this puerile reworking of history. Maybe someday, someone will do the subject justice in a dramatic structure, until then the excellent documentary, 'The Day After Trinity' will have to suffice.
The screenplay illustrates the powerlessness of acting talent in the face of poor writing. Unfortunately, and maybe this is an inevitable remark, the film ends with a whimper, not a bang.
The scientist Michael Merriman (actually a composite of a few real-life characters; try looking up "Louis Slotin" in your favorite search engine) asks whether it is more instinctive in humans to save life or to destroy it. This becomes one of the central themes of the film. Merriman twice heroically saves the lives of others, but the second time receives a lethal exposure to radiation himself in the process. I have read comments in other reviews that Merriman's (fictional) romance with a nurse at the base hospital was unnecessary and too contrived, but I think that this sort of dramatic element helps provide an emotional context for the bomb's direct and indirect victims; also, Merriman's ultimately tragic romance parallels that of Oppenheimer with his "security-risk" mistress.
This film touches on many of the issues of the creation of the atomic bomb: the logistical challenges, the personal and moral and political challenges. These multiple issues are treated more or less equally, and none is really treated in depth at the expense of the others. Some viewers may regard this lack of depth as a liability, but I think the overall balance is good.
The dramatic quality (acting, writing, etc.) of the film is also generally good, with a few faults.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you've never seen this movie, you've in for a treat. This is the story how the country built the first atomic bombs during WWII. Paul Newman (can't ever go wrong there! Read morePublished 1 month ago by lynne.lohmeier
Really good move, however the characters were not really portrayed well. The physicists who actually worked on the project were some of the top in history, but you don't get those... Read morePublished 1 month ago by bigguyfh
Interesting to see how difficult it was to get all on the same page and the personal pressures and sacrifices made by those called upon to develop the Atomic bomb.Published 1 month ago by Jim Spencer
Possible spoiler alert:
I rented this film with expectations of watching a reasonably accurate depiction of the making of the bomb, and because I became interested in... Read more
How poor Paul Newman got suckered into joining the cast of this listless film is a mystery. And how they cast Dwight Shultz as Robert Openheimer.. Read morePublished 2 months ago by bert