The Day After Trinity (1981)
July 17, 2023 11:42 AM - Subscribe

This Oscar-nominated documentary interviews the men and women who were at Los Alamos during work on the first atomic bomb. Includes the secrecy, lab alcohol-fueled social scene ("their average age was 29"), footage of the bomb, the tense final preparations in a lightning storm, scientists talking about the pride, horror and/or regret they felt in both 1945 and 1981, and more. At Criterion Channel and free on YouTube.

The title comes from Oppenheimer's answer to a journalist's question about what he thinks of a proposal from Sen. Robert Kennedy that LBJ should initiate talks to halt the spread of nuclear weapons:

"It's 20 years too late. It should have been done the day after Trinity."

Criterion is also streaming an equally interesting version with commentary from director John Else and 2 film scholars recorded in 1995. At 44:05 Else offers his regret over not including more about the women in the families who joined the male scientists for years out in the desert.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the 1945 Trinity atom bomb explosion.
posted by mediareport (3 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a big fan of the oral history approach to documentary and this mostly delivers, although I'm sure it can't match a book-length treatment like Richard Rhodes' much-praised The Making of the Atomic Bomb or Bird and Sherwin's American Prometheus (I have read and very much liked Stephen Walker's shorter but still informative Shockwave: Countdown to Hiroshima).

It's a useful overview of Oppenheimer's career and eventual sidelining by anti-Communist hysteria but the focus is mostly on quotes from other folks who were there, including Oppenheimer's physicist brother Frank and other not-as-well-known names. If you're not planning on reading a book before seeing Nolan's flick, it seems to me a pretty good introduction to compare to the Hollywood version.
posted by mediareport at 11:57 AM on July 17, 2023

Well, poo. "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by The Criterion Channel." The free YouTube version is now gone.
posted by mediareport at 3:36 PM on July 19, 2023

Ah, it's up at, in 3 parts, for free.
posted by mediareport at 4:07 PM on July 19, 2023 [1 favorite]

« Older Book: Yellowface - R.F. Kuang...   |  Movie: There's Something About... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments