5 Films to Watch as Alternatives to ‘Oppenheimer’

5 Films to Watch Instead of Oppenheimer

Oppenheimer is one of the most widely talked about films of the summer. Directed by Christopher Nolan and based on Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s biography, American Prometheus, the film explores the life and career of physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who’s best known for creating the atomic bomb.

It was this weapon that was later used to bomb both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, and although it brought the end to World War II, it also left thousands of civilians either dead or injured. This part of Oppenheimer’s already complicated legacy has led some viewers to argue over whether or not the experiences of the Japanese people affected by his deadly weapon should have been included.

While there is no clear answer to that debate, there are several films out there that do highlight the experiences of Japanese people impacted by the bombings. Here are just some of them you can watch if you want to learn more:


The Mushroom Club (dir. Steven Okazaki)

Sixty years following the bombing of Hiroshima, the filmmaker heads to the city to explore its everlasting legacy: ranging from the monuments there to memorialize those lost to it, to the politics surrounding it, as well as stories from those who lived to tell what happened.

The Mushroom Club is available for purchase or rent through CAAM.


White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (dir. Steven Okazaki)

Two years following the aforementioned short film, Okazaki tackles the subject matter once more in this feature-length documentary, focusing on both impacted cities. 14 survivors discuss having to live through the bombings; most of whom were only children at the time.

White Light/Black Rain is available to stream on Max.


Original Child Bomb (dir. Carey Schonegevel McKenzie)

Inspired by Thomas Merton’s poem of the same name, the film depicts the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the perspectives of the victims. Through documented accounts of survivors and the younger generation wrestling with the present realities of nuclear weapons, it’s a wake up call to take action, to prevent such a travesty from being repeated.

Original Child Bomb is available for purchase or rent through CAAM.


The Day After Trinity (dir. Jon Else)

This 1981 Academy Award-nominated documentary explores the work and legacy of Oppenheimer, but as more of an urgent warning. Through interviews and archival footage, the film does a deep dive into the physicist’s shift from being the man behind the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to later regretting ever creating the weapon at all, and becoming a vocal opponent of nuclear weapons.

The Day After Trinity is available for streaming through The Criterion Channel.


Grave of the Fireflies (dir. Isao Takahata)

While technically not a portrayal of atomic bombs, but American firebombing, this 1988 Studio Ghibli film portrays the lives of those affected by the war. Siblings Seita and Setsuko find themselves separated from their parents following one such bombing, wherein they then must rely completely on one another while they struggle to fight for their survival, in the final days of World War II.

Grave of the Fireflies is available to stream on Apple TV, Vudu and other platforms. 

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