When Einstein wept

In ‘Oppenheimer’ trailer, the atomic bomb is born

Scottish character actor Tom Conti plays Jewish scientist who urged wartime US president Roosevelt to speed up development of nuclear weapons

Screen capture from a trailer for the movie  'Oppenheimer' showing actor Tom Conti as Jewish physicist Albert Einstein. (YouTube/ Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from a trailer for the movie 'Oppenheimer' showing actor Tom Conti as Jewish physicist Albert Einstein. (YouTube/ Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

JTA – “Oppenheimer,” the hotly anticipated Christopher Nolan biopic about the Jewish nuclear physicist who developed the atomic bomb, will include another familiar Jewish face when it opens this summer: Albert Einstein.

A new trailer for the drama, released this week, includes a brief glimpse of the scientist’s unmistakable visage, as rendered by the Oscar-nominated Scottish character actor Tom Conti. Underscoring the gravity of the bomb’s development, this Einstein has forgone his usual cheery demeanor and is instead wearing a grave frown.

It seems appropriate for the film, which tracks J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) as he and the other members of the Manhattan Project race to develop the bomb by constructing the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico in the mid-1940s. Oppenheimer and his team of scientists tested the weapon there before it was eventually dropped on the Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the waning days of World War II, killing more than 110,000 people.

As the legend goes, the scientist initially heralded the bomb’s successful test run by quoting from the Hindu text Bhagavad Gita: “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.” He would eventually come to regret his creation, telling US President Harry Truman he had blood on his hands.

Einstein’s role in the bomb’s development is often overstated, yet still notable. According to the American Museum of Natural History, when the physicist and Jewish refugee of Nazi Germany learned that German scientists had succeeded in splitting the uranium atom in 1938, he urged then- US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt to speed up development of nuclear weapons in the United States. His fear was that the Nazis might develop the bomb first, in part building on his own scientific equations. Einstein was later barred from participating in the actual Manhattan Project as his left-leaning politics were enough to deem him a security risk.

As soon as the bomb was dropped on Japan, Einstein reportedly was devastated and came to regret even his small role in pushing Roosevelt to develop it.

Several other Jewish figures from the atomic age will make appearances in the historical drama, including onetime US Atomic Energy Commission chair Lewis Strauss (played by Robert Downey Jr.), Manhattan Project physicist Richard Feynman (Jack Quaid), hydrogen bomb developer Edward Teller (Benny Safdie) and nuclear physicist Isidor Isaac Rabi (David Krumholtz).

“Oppenheimer” will open in theaters on July 21. Nolan, a filmmaker known for his grandiose style in blockbusters like “The Dark Knight” and “Inception,” shot the entire film in large-format IMAX cameras to add to its epic scale. It will be his second WWII history, after 2017’s “Dunkirk.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.