'Oppenheimer' featurette: Christopher Nolan says IMAX 'fully immerses' viewers in the story

Christopher Nolan talks about using IMAX for his film "Oppenheimer" in a featurette. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI
1 of 5 | Christopher Nolan talks about using IMAX for his film "Oppenheimer" in a featurette. File Photo by David Silpa/UPI | License Photo

June 1 (UPI) -- Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan used IMAX to serve his vision for his new film.

The widescreen cameras create an image 10 times larger than that of regular 35MM film. As he explains in a new featurette about his use of the technology, "Oppenheimer's story is one of the biggest stories imaginable. Our film tries to take you into his experience. And IMAX for me is a portal into a level of emotion that you can't get with other formats."


"They won't fear it until they understand it and they won't understand it until they've used it," Oppenheimer star Cillian Murphy says in the Oppenheimer trailer, which is repeated in the featurette.

"IMAX is a format of spectacles and it's made for the vistas and for the grandeur of it," says cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema. "I got very curious to discover this as an intimate format. The face is like a landscape. There's a huge complexity and a huge depth to it. How can we get this camera closer to people? How can we get this to work as a very intimate medium?"

In the featurette, when Van Hoytema hoists the camera to shoot a scene, viewers can see just how much of acting with a camera that size forces actors to be completely in tune with their characters.

"I was sitting in the back of a '47 Packard with an IMAX mag on my lap," Robert Downey Jr., who plays Lewis Strauss, says. "[We were] trying to get this driving shot and I felt like I just went back to this origins of great cinema school, cause these lenses are coming at you this close," he gestures the short space between his face and the camera, "and it wakes you up."

Nolan invented the film used to shoot black and white for the IMAX camera which didn't exist beforehand.

"It allows you to fully immerse yourself in the story," Nolan said of the advancement. While some filmmakers have used IMAX cameras for certain scenes, Oppenheimer was shot entirely in the format. "Where the audiences is able to see this in IMAX on the big screen they will be able to experience an extraordinary moment in human history," Nolan says.


Oppenheimer tells the story of Robert Oppenheimer who was instrumental in the creation of the atomic bomb. It will be released in theaters on July 21.

Latest Headlines