'Oppenheimer' Ending Explained: What Does it Mean?

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Universal Pictures

One of the two movies that people are rushing to the theaters to see this weekend, Oppenheimer, is officially out starting today. If, however, you are a part of the "Thursday movie viewing crew," or you are reading this post-July 21st, then you may be wondering what to make of this three-hour cinematic masterpiece presented to us by the legendary Christopher Nolan. Oppenheimer is an exploration into the career of J. Robert Oppenheimer, as he embarks on a quest to develop the atomic bomb. You already know what the movie is about because you just watched it, so let's skip straight into the Oppenheimer ending, explained, shall we?

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"Oppenheimer" Ending Explained

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Universal Pictures

By the end of the film, Oppenheimer has rather unexpectedly become the enemy. You would think the success of the Trinity Nuclear Test (which could have resulted in some catastrophic events had it not been a success), would have meant Oppenheimer was welcomed with open arms in certain circles, but it has been the opposite as the accomplishment has only done things such as his security clearance being revoked.

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Universal Pictures

There's also the fact that Oppenheimer has expressed disapproval/concern with the further creation of nuclear weapons/instruments, and his ties with Tatlock along with suspicions of being associated with communism that has further led to distrust and friction against him.

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Universal Pictures

Fast forward to the ending, the final scene in the film is a monumental one as it references an exchange between Oppenheimer and Einstein (Tom Conti) in 1947 at the Institute for Advanced Study. The meeting takes place near a pond in Princeton, New Jersey, and after a brief conversation, Einstein turns and starts to walk away. Oppenheimer is at the institute because of Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.), who tries to say hello to Einstein, but instead receives a glare.

Why is this important you might ask? Well this very obvious slight from Einstein against Strauss is what leads to his bitterness against Oppenheimer. Why exactly that is when it was Einstein that glared at him and not Oppenheimer itself? Well, that isn't fully understood. The only thing we can think of is that Strauss may have thought that Einstein and Strauss were communicating not-so-great things about him behind his back. Or maybe he figured that if Einstein didn't like him, then Oppenheimer had to dislike his as well. Whatever the case the was, that exchange was the beginning of the relationship between Oppenheimer and Einstein souring.

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Universal Pictures

It was also the beginning of Strauss going on a revenge tour to block Oppenheimer at all costs as he is the one that gets Oppenheimer's security clearance removed. As you know, that move has dire consequences on the career, respectability, and power from Oppenheimer, so in many ways you can say that Einstein glaring at Strauss was the beginning of, well, the end.

Which is why that final scene at the pond is so important. It reveals that Strauss misinterpreted the whole thing. Now don't get us wrong— if we were friends with somebody, and they were having a conversation with an individual who then glares at us when we try to say hello—the optics of that can make it seem like they were talking bad about you for sure, but there's also a level maturity you need to have in terms of thinking the situation all the way through. Sometimes people just don't like you, and it has nothing to do with anybody else.

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Universal Pictures

And as we find out, Einstein and Oppenheimer weren't actually discussing Strauss at all, rather they were having a conversation regarding Oppenheimer's nuclear concerns and guilt for his role in the chaos that it's caused. A rather sad turn of events that could have been avoided had proper communication and understanding happened.

What are your thoughts on Oppenheimer?

RELATED: Five Interesting Facts to Know About 'Oppenheimer' Before Its Release

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