Japan, the only nation to endure nuclear war, opens ‘Oppenheimer’

This weekend, eight months after the biography was released internationally, Japanese moviegoers were finally given the opportunity to watch “Oppenheimer.” This was done in response to worries regarding how the film could be received in Japan, which is the only country in the world that has personally experienced the tragedy of nuclear bombs. The picture that won the Academy Award and was directed by Christopher Nolan, who is of British and American descent, was one of the most successful films of 2023. Its simultaneous release on the same weekend as “Barbie” resulted in a worldwide movie spectacular that was given the name “Barbenheimer.”

Not only did the unpleasant substance of a movie that focused on the destructive technology unleashed by J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team of scientists leave many Japanese people feeling uneasy, but the framing of the film also left many Japanese people feeling uncomfortable. As a result of the fact that some people in Japan believed that the unofficial “Barbenheimer” marketing campaign made the nuclear assaults that occurred in 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem less significant, the company Universal Pictures decided not to include Japan in its global release rollout in July of 2019.

Since its premiere a year ago, the three-hour biography has shattered multiple records, becoming the highest-grossing movie set during World War II, according to Universal. Universal has also broken several other marks. According to Kogyo Tsushinsha, a tracker of the industry, it ranked fourth at the box office in Japan after its debut on Friday. It made 379 million yen, which is equivalent to $2.5 million, in its first three days of release.

Tomonaga Masao, a survivor of the atomic explosion who is also the president of a “hibakusha” group based in Nagasaki, was asked for his opinion as part of Universal’s promotional campaign. Hibakusha is the name that survivors use to refer to themselves. During the latter portion of the film, when Oppenheimer begins to push back against the nuclear arms race that emerges after the war, Masao claimed that he could feel the struggle that the eponymous character is going through. These statements were published on the official Japanese website for the film.

According to a comment attributed to him, he is quoted as stating, “This is… connected to the fundamental problem of the world today, where a nuclear-free world is becoming increasing more and more distant.” He continued by saying, “Here, we get a sense of Nolan’s hidden message of getting politicians to take responsibility for their actions.”

While this is going on, former Mayor of Hiroshima Hiraoka Takashi is being reported as claiming that he witnessed “a man full of contradictions.” This individual’s scientific work was weaponized by the state, and his warning against downplaying the fear of nuclear war was later ignored by the same authorities. According to him, “The atmosphere of those days still fills our world today,” and he went on to say, “I would like to watch it again and think about what a nation that believes in nuclear deterrence is.”

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