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Actual footage of Oppenheimer's atomic bomb test that changed the world forever

Jess Battison

| Last updated 

One of the most hotly anticipated films of the whole year, Oppenheimer, finally arrived in cinemas on Friday (21 July).

Christopher Nolan’s latest project tells the story of American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy) and his role in developing the atomic bomb that was used in World War II.

This led to him often being known as the ‘father of the atomic bomb’.

With a whopping run time of three hours, the film also stars Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh and Matt Damon.


As a biopic thriller, there can be comparisons made between what is depicted on the big screen and what actually happened in real life.

Such as watching historical footage of Oppenheimer’s actual atomic bomb test that truly changed the world forever.


On 16 July 1945, in a desert in New Mexico, the first nuclear test took place for the first atomic bomb - with a code name of The Trinity Test.


The Manhattan Project scientists prepared to watch the detonation of this world first in nuclear weaponry. The project was directed by Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (played by Damon in the movie) and Oppenheimer was the director of the designing.

It began in 1939 and at its peak, the project employed nearly 130,000 people.

In a YouTube video of The Trinity Test posted by AtomicHeritage, the wife of Manhattan Project physicist Edwin McMillan, Elsie, remembers asking him what would happen at the test.

She said that they hoped it would be a success and if it was ‘we pray without the loss of any lives’.

Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer. Credit: Universal Pictures
Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer. Credit: Universal Pictures

Elsie also added that they didn’t ‘want to say goodbye’ to each other on the morning of the test.

The tested device was detonated at about 5:30am, releasing 18.6 kilotons of power and instantly vaporising the 100-foot tower it was placed atop.

In the video, an enormous bright white flash lights up the entire sky, followed by a huge mushroom of glowing smoke that billows up into the air.


During The Trinity Test, such a strong blast sent the observers to the ground and the noise could be heard for miles.

This successful test marked the beginning of the Atomic Age.

Murphy has previously described Oppenheimer as a movie that will ‘knock people out’ as it is ‘so provocative, so powerful’.

Oppenheimer is in cinemas now.

Topics: History, TV and Film, World War 2, Oppenheimer

Jess Battison
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