terça-feira, 7 de fevereiro de 2012

Oppenheimer (1980) with Sam Watterson

“With all the renewed interest in this brilliant, complex, and controversial scientist, who ushered in the atomic age, and later became one its most important philosophers, we now have a long awaited DVD issue of this dramatic series, based upon the book of Peter Goodchild: “J Robert Oppenheimer: Shatterer of Worlds”.

This was a joint production of the BBC/WGBH, starring Sam Waterston as JRO. Although the script took some liberties with dialogue, it was for the most part accurate, both historically, and, insofar as was possible, in that it was dealing with a subject based upon still classified material, scientifically. It alludes to a large FBI file on Oppenheimer, which was becoming more available at the time of production, and an invaluable source for historians.

The 7 episodes follow Oppenheimer from his Berkeley days to Los Alamos where the bomb was built and tested, to Princeton and Washington, where he held court after the War, as the director of the Institute of Advanced Studies(where he was Einstein’s boss)and a consultant to the AEC as the nation’s premier advisor on atomic energy, through the beginning of his exile following the stripping of his security clearance.
The drama is especially good on both the deliberations of the Interim committee, which discussed the possible uses of the bomb once it was to be finished, as well as the Security Hearing which led to the stripping of Oppenheimer’s clearance. Notable performances are given by both Sam Waterston, as Oppenheimer, and Manning Redwood as Groves. David Suchet is also memorable as Edward Teller.” (Written by Mark Borowsky, M.D. Review at the Amazon.co.uk site)


Published: May 11, 1982

PUBLIC television's ''American Playhouse'' is devoting seven weekly hours to a BBC production made with the help of some money from WGBH-TV of Boston. In any event, the subject is American. ''Oppenheimer,'' beginning tonight at 9 o'clock on WNET-TV, is a biography of Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the theoretical physicist who died in 1967, at the age of 62, but whose life and career remain controversial.

The essential facts are simple enough. During World War II, Dr. Oppenheimer directed the Manhattan Project, the immense program that produced the world's first atomic weapons. Their use against Japan brought the war to an end. In 1945, Dr. Oppenheimer was a hero. But his subsequent opposition to further development of atomic weapons made him powerful enemies in the military, political and even scientific communities. In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower revoked Dr. Oppenheimer's security clearance under a cloud of charges that he was a Soviet spy. Those charges were never proved, but the Eisenhower order was never rescinded.

This 1980 television dramatization was written by Peter Prince who, in addition to doing extensive interviewing with interested parties, obtained access to previously secret Federal Bureau of Investigation files after the passage of the Freedom of Information Act. It was produced by Peter Goodchild, whose previous television credits include the laudable ''Marie Curie'' series, starring Jane Lapotaire. He has since written ''J. Robert Oppenheimer: Shatterer of Worlds,'' published last year by the Houghton Mifflin Company. Barry Davis directed.

Covering 15 years, the story begins in 1938, when Dr. Oppenheimer was already recognized as a brilliant theorist who, together with Dr. Ernest Lawrence, had turned the University of California at Berkeley into a renowned center for learning physics. Played incisively by Sam Waterston, Dr. Oppenheimer is portrayed as a somewhat vain teacher surrounded by an adoring clique of superior students. He wanders, almost absent-mindedly, through left-wing circles. Fascism is on the rise, especially in Germany, and the Communist Party is in the vanguard of what the script calls ''uncompromising opposition.''

This is the period, obviously, that will create so many difficulties for Dr. Oppenheimer in later investigations. He is shown being sympathetic to left-wing causes, donating a substantial portion of his salary to them. His brother and sister-in-law are party members, as is Jean Tatlock, a neurotic woman friend with whom he has been having a stormy affair. Jean gets upset with his unfocused guilt. ''Go and be Jewish somewhere else,'' she snaps. But Dr. Oppenheimer is seen refusing to join the party, going so far as to express doubts about the quality of life in Russia, which some noted emigres have compared with ''living in a tomb.''

At the same time, knowledgeable Europeans are urging the United States to start moving quickly on atomic research. Dr. Oppenheimer refuses to believe that German scientists, many of whom he knew personally, would work for Hitler. He was reluctant to switch from teaching to military research when ''there isn't even a war yet.'' But with the Hitler-Stalin pact of 1939, the prospect of war is undeniable. Dr. Oppenheimer, like Lawrence, doesn't hesitate to become ''a bona fide member of the uranium project.'' Meanwhile, he has met and is planning to become the fourth husband of Kitty Harrison, an ambitious woman who tells him, ''This could be your opportunity - in any war, a lot of people do well out of it.''

Tonight's first episode certainly sets the stage deftly for a tale of political intrigue and personal ambition. Missing are revealing glimpses into Oppenheimer's earlier years of living a pampered and sheltered existence on New York's Riverside Drive and in some of the best schools of Europe. He was a considerably disturbed young man who once confessed to having thought of suicide. And some of his eccentric ways inspired either complete devotion or animosity.

But the producers are clearly more interested in supplying the background that will later make at least feasible the conclusion, as stated in a memorandum from William Borden, executive director of the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy, to J. Edgar Hoover, that ''more probably than not, Dr. Oppenheimer is an espionage agent under Soviet direction.'' That conclusion is rejected by this television biography, which is far more interested in telling one of the more puzzling and indeed astonishing stories of contemporary American history.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

Episode 6

Episode 7

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