Wonders are Many
Review by Zandro Salvo.
Going into this movie I expected the worst. I thought that the only thing that would be more tedious and self-absorbed than an opera about creating the atomic bomb would be a movie about the making of an opera about creating the atomic bomb. To my surprise, Wonders are Many is a captivating film. Director Jon Else captures the fifth collaboration between composer John Adams and artistic director Peter Sellars as they interpret J. Robert Oppenheimer’s creation of the atomic bomb. The combination of Adams’ meticulous musical arrangements and Sellars’ passionate interpretations scores the momentous discovery perfectly. The juxtaposition between science and art provides the perfect path to unravel the ethical and scientific dilemmas faced by Oppenheimer and his crew of scientists. Oppenheimer himself was an enigmatic character, with an equal passion for poetry and physics; an opera strictly dedicated to Oppenheimer the man would have sufficed. However, the grand scope of his character is well summarized in the 48 hours before the testing of the first bomb. Moreover, the concept of an opera to unravel the humanity behind the science provides the emotional context needed to understand the magnitude of Oppenheimer’s work. I must confess that I’ve never found opera to be engaging but the hardship and dedication needed to pull off the grand artistic feet provides a parallel to the labours of Oppenheimer and his crew. Like notes on a page, Oppenheimer and his scientists were forced to harmonize their efforts and every step of the way poured everything into their opus. Set against Adams’ musical arrangements and Sellars’ scientific and poetic texts, one truly gets a sense of the poetry and the power of this historical discovery.
Wonders Are Many: The Making of Doctor Atomic
Jon Else | USA | 2007 | 94min
Fri. Oct. 5 | 10:30am | Empire Granville Theatre
Tue. Oct. 9 | 9:30pm | Vancity Theatre