Intimate Scene in the Oppenheimer
The inclusion of an intimate scene in the film Oppenheimer has ignited a fiery controversy, with several Indian citizens accusing the filmmakers of disrespecting Hinduism. The scene in question features Oppenheimer (portrayed by Cillian Murphy) and Jean Tatlock (played by Florence Pugh) lying in bed together within the physicist’s room. In an unexpected turn, Jean rises from the bed and walks towards the bookshelf in the room.
Taking a copy of the Bhagavad Gita, one of Hinduism’s sacred scriptures, Jean asks Murphy to read the verses inscribed in the ancient Sanskrit text. To the dismay of some viewers, Oppenheimer reads aloud, “I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.” This quote is historically attributed to the theoretical physicist himself, particularly in reference to the detonation of the atomic bomb he helped create in Japan during World War II.
The Indian Government Responds to Oppenheimer
The New York Post reported on Sunday (July 23) that a number of Indian audiences found the film’s initial intimate scene to be offensive due to its association with the Bhagavad Gita. The sentiment was echoed by Uday Mahurkar, an official from the Indian Government Information Commission and a prominent author, who addressed his objections to Christopher Nolan in an open letter.
Mahurkar expressed deep concern regarding what he perceived as a direct attack on Hinduism within the film Oppenheimer. He emphasized that the Bhagavad Gita holds profound reverence within Hindu culture and has served as a source of inspiration for numerous sanyasis, Brahmacaris/Brahmacarinis, and other legends who have lived lives of self-control and selfless benevolence.
Furthermore, Mahurkar likened the scene to an assault on Hinduism and its followers, drawing parallels to conspiratorial actions taken by anti-Hindu groups. He urged Nolan to consider removing the scene, arguing that such a gesture would foster trust in Nolan as a sensitive individual and earn him the friendship of billions of well-intentioned individuals.
The New York Post disclosed its attempt to elicit a response from Christopher Nolan regarding these serious accusations.
Christopher Nolan’s Perspective
The Bhagavad Gita, also known as Bhagawadgita, constitutes an integral part of the Mahabharata—an epic work of literature—and takes the form of a poetic dialogue between Sri Krishna and his disciple, Arjuna.
Throughout this profound dialogue, Sri Krishna, a divine figure, imparts the wisdom of Vedantic philosophy, rendering the Bhagavad Gita the Fifth Veda, according to information provided by the University of Udayana Bali.
For Hindus, the Bhagavad Gita offers essential teachings that guide individuals towards liberation from worldly suffering and the attainment of spiritual enlightenment. Moreover, reading or reciting the Bhagavad Gita is considered tantamount to chanting the sacred word of Brahman, the Supreme Divine.
Meanwhile, Christopher Nolan responded to the contentious intimate scene between Oppenheimer and Jean, asserting its significance in conveying the message of the biopic film. According to Nolan, Jean Tatlock played a pivotal role in Oppenheimer’s life as the scientist responsible for creating the first atomic bomb utilized during World War II.
Nolan argued that comprehending Oppenheimer’s life story—including his sexual aspects and relationships with women—was critical to grasping the essence of the character. He emphasized that delving into their relationship was essential for a full understanding of the profound impact it had on Oppenheimer’s life, without shying away from depicting the intimacy between them.
By exploring Oppenheimer’s intimate connections and personal dynamics, Nolan sought to provide a nuanced portrayal of the complex scientist and his entangled emotions.
In conclusion, the intimate scene in Oppenheimer has sparked intense debate and allegations of disrespect towards Hinduism. As the controversy continues to unfold, Christopher Nolan’s perspective on the scene sheds light on his intentions as a filmmaker to present a comprehensive and humanizing portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s life, while respecting the cultural sensitivities of his viewers. As the discussions persist, it remains essential for artists and filmmakers to approach sensitive subjects with thoughtfulness and sensitivity, recognizing the profound impact their work can have on diverse audiences.