FACT CHECK: Has Japan banned the release of Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer? | Hollywood


As the highly anticipated release of Christopher Nolan’s epic film, “Oppenheimer,” draws near, speculations have emerged about a potential ban on the movie in Japan. “Oppenheimer” delves into the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist behind the creation of the first nuclear bomb during the Manhattan Project.

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, left, and Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in a scene from "Oppenheimer." (AP)
This image released by Universal Pictures shows Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock, left, and Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer in a scene from “Oppenheimer.” (AP)

The use of nuclear weaponry in the Pacific War resulted in devastating consequences for Japan, with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki causing the loss of approximately 200,000 lives, mostly civilians. However, recent reports debunk the ban rumors, indicating that the film’s release plans are still in progress for various markets, including Japan.

Japanese Cinema’s Savvy Approach

While “Oppenheimer” gears up for its global release, the Japanese market is known for its prudent approach to blockbuster films. Hollywood releases often arrive later in Japan than in other countries, giving the industry a chance to gauge the movie’s performance and popularity worldwide before determining its local release strategy. If “Oppenheimer” proves successful elsewhere, Japan may opt for a widespread launch; otherwise, a limited release could be considered.

Unfounded Sensitivities

Speculation arose that “Oppenheimer” might be too sensitive for Japanese audiences due to the tragic events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, a glance through Japan’s cinematic history reveals a liberal approach to artistic expression. The industry has embraced various genres and styles, including horror, samurai, and high-school themed dramas. Moreover, since the 1950s, film censorship in Japan has largely focused on explicit imagery rather than political or militaristic issues.

A Gripping Tale Leaving Audiences Devastated

As the film premiered in several locations, viewers have been deeply moved by the intense story it portrays. Some even described it as akin to a horror movie. Kai Bird, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and co-author of the book that inspired the film, expressed being stunned and emotionally affected by “Oppenheimer.”

Christopher Nolan himself proclaimed J. Robert Oppenheimer as one of the most significant figures in history, shaping the world we live in today, both for better and worse.

Awaiting “Oppenheimer’s” Unveiling in Japan

The delays are not uncommon, and the industry’s pragmatic approach could lead to a decision based on the film’s global success. Despite the historical sensitivities surrounding nuclear warfare, Japan’s cinematic landscape has shown resilience and artistic freedom over the years, making it a compelling territory for “Oppenheimer” to explore.

Also read | 10 Reasons why Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ is touted as the best film of the century

Is Oppenheimer in Japan is same as Barbie in Vietnam?

Coincidentally, another film, Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie,” has faced its own challenges in Vietnam, where it was banned over a scene depicting the contentious “nine-dash line,” representing China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea. In response, Warner Bros clarified that the scene was intended to be a child-like crayon drawing within the context of “Barbie’s make-believe journey from Barbie Land.”

Also read | Bye, Barbie! Vietnam bans Barbie movie over controversial map of South China Sea


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