Oppenheimer - General Information

The upcoming epic thriller based on J. Robert Oppenheimer, the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.
User avatar
Posts: 118
Joined: March 2017
I’m currently reading the chapter on Dunkirk in The Nolan Variations, and thought this was an interesting excerpt where Nolan talks about deciding to cut down on dialogue for the screenplay to that film. Based on what he says about Dunkirk here, and writing a screenplay based on a true story/real event more generally, I wonder if he might be approaching Oppenheimer with a similar mindset:
"I’m just going to try and not have dialogue for a lot of it. Once I’d stepped outside that way of thinking of the writing, I couldn’t step back. Once you go down that road, you start to realize how intensely artificial dialogue is in films, even well-written dialogue. The use of dialogue is not unlike the use of music—it’s expressive. Once you feel that with regards to a true story you’re dealing with, or a real event, I should say, trying to represent that, it suddenly seems a very artificial way of telling the story. So it got stripped away more and more."
It’s obviously unlikely that Nolan would eschew dialogue to the extent he did for Dunkirk since Oppenheimer is the type of story that inherently requires more exposition and verbal interaction among the characters…. but the excerpt above suggests to me that Nolan might be somewhat self-conscious about writing fictional dialogue to portray real events and true stories in particular. If he’s concerned about the use of dialogue as an “artificial” way to tell a true story, and not wanting insert too much of “himself” into it by putting his own dialogue into the mouths of characters based on real people, I wonder if we might get a more measured approach to dialogue writing here than what we’ve seen in Tenet/Inception/Interstellar, etc.

Posts: 41
Joined: March 2022
Janky Sam wrote:
March 30th, 2022, 2:32 am
I’m currently reading the chapter on Dunkirk in The Nolan Variations, and thought this was an interesting excerpt where Nolan talks about deciding to cut down on dialogue for the screenplay to that film. Based on what he says about Dunkirk here, and writing a screenplay based on a true story/real event more generally, I wonder if he might be approaching Oppenheimer with a similar mindset:
"I’m just going to try and not have dialogue for a lot of it. Once I’d stepped outside that way of thinking of the writing, I couldn’t step back. Once you go down that road, you start to realize how intensely artificial dialogue is in films, even well-written dialogue. The use of dialogue is not unlike the use of music—it’s expressive. Once you feel that with regards to a true story you’re dealing with, or a real event, I should say, trying to represent that, it suddenly seems a very artificial way of telling the story. So it got stripped away more and more."
It’s obviously unlikely that Nolan would eschew dialogue to the extent he did for Dunkirk since Oppenheimer is the type of story that inherently requires more exposition and verbal interaction among the characters…. but the excerpt above suggests to me that Nolan might be somewhat self-conscious about writing fictional dialogue to portray real events and true stories in particular. If he’s concerned about the use of dialogue as an “artificial” way to tell a true story, and not wanting insert too much of “himself” into it by putting his own dialogue into the mouths of characters based on real people, I wonder if we might get a more measured approach to dialogue writing here than what we’ve seen in Tenet/Inception/Interstellar, etc.
I can see it. Personally whilst I get where he's coming from, I don't think real life can be inherently captured by stripping away dialogue, if anything that's more embracing the visual medium of film and going into more arthouse areas. It's a symptom of reality for people to speak to each other and communicate, especially back in the past when we didn't have social media and cell phones. Dunkirk did work really well with it's usage and non-usage of dialogue though, so if he does a similar thing here I can't see it failing. I think it would work best in scenes where Oppenheimer is just taking in his situation, what's going on and even what he's done.

User avatar
Posts: 532
Joined: August 2019
There was a lot of explaining and exposition going on in Tenet so it would appear Nolan doesn't believe what he said himself.

Posts: 161
Joined: January 2018
blackColumn wrote:
March 30th, 2022, 1:46 pm
There was a lot of explaining and exposition going on in Tenet so it would appear Nolan doesn't believe what he said himself.
Tenet is fiction

Posts: 63
Joined: September 2020
Tenet has the worst dialogue of his filmography. Previously, Interstellar had the honor of having the worst written dialogue but Tenet is now a new low. It's odd to see him go from Dunkirk, his best film, to Tenet, his worst. It's as if he didn't learn anything from Dunkirk and instead relapsed back to his old ways.

User avatar
Posts: 532
Joined: August 2019
He is not a very diverse filmmaker. He likes particular things and repeats them, over and over.

User avatar
Posts: 761
Joined: November 2018
blackColumn wrote:
March 30th, 2022, 10:28 pm
He is not a very diverse filmmaker. He likes particular things and repeats them, over and over.
Few auteurs diverge from their "style", even Spielberg, being as versatile has he is, has a very distinct style, things he repeats himself on.

User avatar
Posts: 20129
Joined: June 2010
Location: The White City
Nicolaslabra wrote:
March 30th, 2022, 10:42 pm
blackColumn wrote:
March 30th, 2022, 10:28 pm
He is not a very diverse filmmaker. He likes particular things and repeats them, over and over.
Few auteurs diverge from their "style", even Spielberg, being as versatile has he is, has a very distinct style, things he repeats himself on.
I'm sure I'll get skewered for this but Spielberg's shown far more latitude and flexibility in style and approach than Nolan, albeit with some hallmarks he often returns to.


-Vader

Posts: 580
Joined: November 2019
Nicolaslabra wrote:
March 30th, 2022, 10:42 pm
Few auteurs diverge from their "style", even Spielberg, being as versatile has he is, has a very distinct style, things he repeats himself on.
Why pay attention to those two up there? They might be the same person trying to start controversy mainly. All filmmakers (as any person) have something they gravitate towards to an extent or innate characteristics perceivable in their movies, etc. That doesn’t mean diversity isn’t a big part of their work though. After all, on a subconscious level, we are all inspired by something else probably, and that transfers in a way to their projects.

Now, if the idea is about some story elements like the "dead wife" aspect then I think it depends on the context (Batman’s mom dying happened way before Nolan so it doesn’t count) although it has been used a few times in his films but it's not so much a repeat when the narrative is different if you ask me. It’s like: well, in The Prestige wife killed herself and in Inception too. However, one shows how she was being psychologically destroyed by Borden directly due to his twisted committed obsession and with Inception this occurred indirectly due to her obsession instead as Cobb thought he was helping her with the idea "your reality is not real". The parallels are there but different, creative, and interesting to see how it can still take an opposite dynamic to ponder about between the story of both movies. In Interstellar it's only mentioned once and then it has nothing to do with the story. People can certainly not like his films but they are not uninspired or derivative, in my opinion.

In terms of style he does have a distinct touch but I still see him go for new approaches as well within his own framework, so to speak. Dunkirk being the one farthest in that regard perhaps.

Posts: 580
Joined: November 2019
Vader182 wrote:
March 31st, 2022, 12:02 am

I'm sure I'll get skewered for this but Spielberg's shown far more latitude and flexibility in style and approach than Nolan, albeit with some hallmarks he often returns to.


-Vader
I am not sure how well that comparison applies to a filmmaker who is just getting to his twelve feature film and another one who has already made 30 something (I think) projects but I guess it would come down to analyzing first 12 movies Spielberg made maybe? Spielberg has been mainly a director than a writer too.

Post Reply