Oppenheimer image shows Cillian Murphy in vibrant colors

A new image of Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer shows Cillian Murphy's titular physicist in vibrant color — a black-and-white look of the past very different.

A new image of Oppenheimer shows the titular physicist in vibrant colour. After appearing in five Christopher Nolan films (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception and Dunkirk), Cillian Murphy stars as J. Oppenheimer, a theoretical physicist whose work on the Manhattan Project led to the atomic bomb. While the film has a star-studded cast, Universal's marketing campaign has largely focused on the famed physicist, while also showcasing the film's historic black-and-white photography.

Now, unlike the mostly black-and-white posters and images of the past, the latest Oppenheimer images show Murphy's protagonist in vibrant color. As part of USA TODAY's preview of the 2023 film, this new image shows Oppenheimer peering stoically downward, his face illuminated by a mysterious light that could come from a nuclear device. Check out the new images below:

Oppenheimer's Use of Black & White Vs. Color Explained

Nolan previously used both black and white and color in Memento, a technique he brought back for Oppenheimer. In his breakthrough 2000 film, the director alternates between black and white and color to differentiate the two timelines. Nolan will likely use a similar visual trick in his new film. based on The second Oppenheimer trailer is all in color, documenting the bomb-making process, and the scene where Oppenheimer and his fellow Manhattan Project scientists are researching and developing a nuclear weapon may be rendered in color.

Instead, Oppenheimer's black-and-white scenes likely took place after the bomb was made and detonated. During this time, Oppenheimer faced many concerns about the weapon he had created and how it might be used in the future. The use of black and white in these scenes may represent the bleakness of his inner conflict. Also, during the Red Scare, Oppenheimer's ties to the Communist Party led to his security clearance being revoked after a well-publicized hearing, and the scenes will likely be presented in black and white.

To film Oppenheimer's black-and-white scenes in the IMAX experience, Nolan had Kodak and Fotokem develop an entirely new type of film that would make the feat possible. Thus, Oppenheimer became the first large-format film in film history to be shot in black and white. Along with a star-studded cast and stunning nuclear explosions, Oppenheimer's use of black and white and color will be one of the most compelling visuals of Nolan's filming The latest spectacle opens in theaters on July 21, 2023. ^More: Why Nolan's Oppenheimer Movie Won't Divide Like Tenet ^Source: USA TODAY

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