Here's how 'Oppenheimer' is connected to UC Berkeley as scenes from new movie were shot on campus

J.R. Stone Image
Friday, July 21, 2023
Here's how new 'Oppenheimer' movie is connected to UC Berkeley
EMBED <>More Videos

The new "Oppenheimer" movie profiles the man who ran the program creating the first nuclear weapons and has local ties to UC Berkeley.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A Hollywood movie with local ties to UC Berkeley just hit the movie theaters. It's called "Oppenheimer" and it profiles the man who ran the program creating the first nuclear weapons.

His name was J. Robert Oppenheimer, and if you don't know who he was, that may soon change with the release of the movie.

He is often called the "father of the atomic bomb."

"Could somebody else have done it? Well I suppose so, but what we know is he did it and he was the person who put it together to do it and it is a remarkable compliment to General Grove's judgment that he chose somebody who could actually pull it off," said UC Berkeley historian and professor emeritus David Hollinger.

MORE: Where was that filmed? We mapped out all of San Francisco's movie locations

For a better experience, click here to view the full map in a new window

It was at Berkeley where Oppenheimer taught for several years, right before he left to head the government's top-secret Manhattan Project to create the first nuclear weapons. Atomic bombs that were later dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during World War II, killing thousands of people.

"He was the person in the seminar who almost always came up with the best idea, so all these people report being in these meetings with him - they're going on about this or that and then somebody raises a really hard question and then Oppenheimer suddenly speaks up with his great lucidity and depth of insight, and says something that it doesn't solve the problem it moves the conversation to another place," said Hollinger.

Yasunori Nomura, who is eager to see the movie, is currently a theoretical physicist at UC Berkeley. He believes Oppenheimer helped solidify UC Berkeley Physics as one of the top programs in the world, but cautions putting him in certain categories.

"He must have been charismatic leader and that's really fascinating given that his achievement was not super high, it's great that he exists, but it's not say at the level of Albert Einstein or Steven Hawkins or those people," said Nomura.

"Oppenheimer is a very important figure in world history," said Hollinger.

And some scenes from the movie were even filmed on UC Berkeley's campus, just down the street from the Elmwood Theater that plans to show the film due to the local ties.

UC Berkeley will hold a panel discussion on J. Robert Oppenheimer on July 28 at the Chevron Auditorium at International House in Berkeley. Registration for the in-person event can be found here.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live