New Mexicans are integral to the history of atomic development and testing, but they’re nowhere to be seen on screen.
“We’ve been slept-walked into a new nuclear arms race, arguably far more dangerous than the first,” said John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe. “I grew up in the duck-and-cover generation. Perhaps some of you remember that. I felt chills many decades later when I read that Robert McNamara, defense secretary during the Cuban Missile Crisis, said that we survived that crisis only by luck. Luck is not a sustainable strategy for the survival of the human family.”
Jay Coghlan, of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, emphasized the danger from renewed plutonium pit production at Los Alamos, which he sees as both unnecessary for nuclear deterrence, and as risking development of new nuclear weapons.
In Christopher Nolan’s three-hour biopic “Oppenheimer,” released last week, the Manhattan Project comes to New Mexico largely because J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) wishes it so. The film was shot in the Land of Enchantment with a hastily assembled Ghost Ranch set serving as the film’s freshly constructed Los Alamos. “Oppenheimer” features New Mexico as setting, backdrop, and refuge for the transplant scientists and military men who spent World War II developing the atom bomb. The film does not show the people already living in New Mexico, neither before the first shovel hits the dirt nor after Trinity’s radioactive fallout creates the first downwinders.