Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer will forever be known as the “father of the atomic bomb.” At Los Alamos, though, he was much more.

Watch the full story of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his work on the Manhattan Project as only the Los Alamos National Lab can tell it.

An undisputed genius. A revered leader. A charmer and a storyteller.

Oppenheimer came to the clandestine Lab in northern New Mexico as its first Director in 1943, hired by General Leslie Groves to accomplish a monumental feat: create the atomic bomb as quickly as possible to help end World War II. In just 27 months, Oppenheimer led his team to do just that, changing the world and affirming his scientific legacy.

In 1954, however, the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission revoked Oppenheimer’s security clearance, alleging he had ties to communism. His final years were spent quietly before his death at age 62 in 1967. 

In late 2022, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm signed an order vacating the 1954 decision to revoke Oppenheimer's security clearance. Read more about what many considered an unfair political and personal attack, including details on the history and Granholm's statement.


About the documentary

“Oppenheimer: Science, Mission, Legacy” is produced by the NSRC and highlights the impetus for the Manhattan Project’s creation and Los Alamos National Laboratory’s continuing mission.

Much of the material in “Oppenheimer: Science, Mission, Legacy” is based on rare materials and footage from the NSRC’s unclassified legacy collections. Narrated by NSRC Senior Historian Alan Carr, the film features in-depth interviews with:

  • James Kunetka, author of “The General and the Genius: Groves and Oppenheimer – the Unlikely Partnership that Built the Atom Bomb”;
  • Kai Bird, author of “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer”; and
  • Tim Rieser, the former U.S. Senate staffer who was instrumental in the Department of Energy’s December 2022 vacating of the Atomic Energy Commission’s 1954 revocation of Oppenheimer’s security clearance.

The documentary also includes footage of Secretary Granholm’s August 2023 visit to the Laboratory and an interview with J. Robert Oppenheimer’s grandson, Charles Oppenheimer.

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