Fat Man and Little Boy on DVD
Paul Newman stars as tough as nails general Leslie Groves in this story recounting
of the work that led to the development of the atomic bomb during World War
And its a surprisingly even handed tale, considering Hollywoods
bent for things liberal and for rewriting history. It isnt completely
balanced, but it doesnt beat you over the head with liberal dogma, so
that must be considered a victory for balance in this partisan age. The movie
rightly touches on the moral questions about a weapon that not only could lay
waste to an entire city and its population, but which also changes the face
of warfare and, indeed, the world in which we live in.
The atomic bomb is a horrible weapon. But its development was inevitable and,
as Roland Joffes film clearly states, the decision to research it was
motivated not only by because they could but because they were afraid
of the consequences of inaction when it appeared clear to them that the Nazis
were also researching such a weapon. And does any thinking person doubt that
the Nazis would have used it (or the threat of it, which is also a concept discussed
in this film) to pursue their goal of world domination?
It was no easy task, of course, pushing the outside of the technological envelope
as they did, and the bulk of the story follows the work of Robert Oppenheimers
(Dwight Schultz) team as they worked isolated from friend and family
alike to unlock the secrets of the universe. They not only had to discover
how to tame the atom, but how to control it as well: what good is an atomic
bomb if it destroys those who wield it as well as those upon whom it is unleashed?
Newman is an outstanding actor and, as usual, hes completely believable
as General Groves. Schultz, who we remember best from his role in a couple of
Star Trek The Next Generation episodes, goes toe to toe with the legendary Newman
(which we imagine must be a tad intimidating) and does a very good job. His
Oppenheimer is a man torn in many different directions but also a man
who knows hes the top in his field.
The supporting cast is made up of very good actors, most of whom have quite
small parts in whats really Schultz/Newmans movie. Laura Dern is
a nurse who falls in love with John Cusak only to lose him in a most
horrifying way. Bonnie Bedelia is Oppenheimers loyal wife, and Natasha
Richardson has a single scene as the other woman. All turn in believable
One bit of liberalism or at least a lack of balance - comes through
at the end, as the fate of fat man and little boy (the
two atomic bombs that successfully ended the war) is outlined. Titles correctly
point out that the use of the bombs killed some 200,000 people, but the other
side how many lives from both sides of the conflict were saved and how
much of Japan wasnt destroyed because the war ended quickly and decisively
instead of dragging on and on as the allies finally invaded Japan and fought
it to its eventual and inevitable surrender - is never touched upon. And how
many other conflicts never started because of the mere threat of nuclear weapons?
The DVD is excellent, though sparse. Its presented in anamorphic widescreen,
16x9 TV compatible, and the picture is outstanding. Colors are rich and deep,
and the image is gorgeous, from the lovely locations to the little things
like the wrinkles in a soldiers uniform that come through beautifully.
Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 surround and we thought it was okay but bass heavy.
The opening credits caused things on our home theater walls to shake
and imagine what happened when the atomic bomb test went off! And because we
had to turn it down during those moments, it led to other parts of the film
(dialogue etc.) to be a tad soft.
There are no extras, unfortunately.
Fat Man and Little Boy, from Paramount Home Entertainment
126 min. anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Paul Newman, Dwight Schultz, John Cusak, Bonnie Bedelia, Laura Dern
Produced by Tony Garnett,
Written by Bruce Robinson and Roland Joffe, directed by Roland Joffee
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