Christopher Nolan’s son told him ‘young people aren’t concerned’ about nukes

With over $960 million in box office returns, Oppenheimer was the third-highest-grossing film of 2023 and the highest-grossing biopic ever made.

It tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) from his days as a university student to his role in developing the atomic bomb with the Manhattan Project to the 1954 security hearing that effectively ended his career.

After accepting the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director, Oppenheimer writer-director Christopher Nolan told the press that his kids weren’t all that impressed with the subject matter of his award-winning film. And he realized that making a movie about the issue might be able to move the needle.

“It was very striking to me when I first got involved on the project. I told one of my teenage sons what I was working on, and he actually said to me, ‘Well, young people aren’t that concerned about nuclear weapons.'”

While Nolan clarified that he never purposefully makes a film to send audiences a particular message, but rather hopes that his film may help younger generations understand the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Entertainment Weekly: “Young People Arent’ Concerned”

Doomsday Clock

It may be that the lack of concern on the part of the current young generation is related to the Doomsday Clock. Perhaps it the threat to the world is not as great as it was during the 1980s. Alternatively, knowledge of that that dire measure of global threats is not as widespread as it was decades ago.

Founded in 1945 by Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and University of Chicago scientists who helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists created the Doomsday Clock two years later, using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero) to convey threats to humanity and the planet.

The closest the world came to midnight during the 1980s was 3 minutes. Further escalation of the tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union, with the ongoing Soviet–Afghan War intensifying the Cold War. U.S. motivated this metric.

The farthest the world has been from midnight was in 1991 at 17 minutes. Then, the United States and Soviet Union had signed the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), and the Soviet Union dissolved.

The Doomsday Clock is set every year by the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes nine Nobel laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to global catastrophe caused by man-made technologies.

Citing the deteriorating state of the world, the Board set the Clock to at two minutes to midnight in 2019 and at 100 seconds to midnight in 2022. In 2023, the board expressed our “heightened concern” by moving the Clock to 90 seconds to midnight—the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been—in large part because of Russian threats to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine. This year, they set the Doomsday Clock again at 90 seconds to midnight because humanity continues to face an unprecedented level of danger.

More about the Doomsday Clock

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