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Why Is Oppenheimer Rated R?

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Cillian Murphy's Oppenheimer thinking
Credit: Universal Pictures

Oppenheimer, a film about the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb, has been given an R-rating. So, why is Oppenheimer, a biographical film, rated R?

Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan’s fourth film that has been given an R-rating. Nolan’s last movie that was rated R was his 2002 film Insomnia.

Since then, Nolan’s films have received a PG-13 rating, which is why the R-rating for his 2023 film came as a surprise to some. So, why is Oppenheimer rated R?

Oppenheimer’s Age Rating Explained

Cillian Murphy's Oppenheimer thinking
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Credit: Universal Pictures

While Nolan’s past films have been more viewer-friendly with PG-13 ratings, this isn’t the case for Oppenheimer.

The R-rating of Oppenheimer shows that the film contains some content that is not suitable for younger ages.

In the US, anyone under 17 years of age will require a parent or adult guardian to accompany them should they wish to watch the film in cinemas.

Additionally, as R-rated films contain some adult material, parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.

However, the age rating for Oppenheimer shows that the film is aimed at a mature audience, not children. So, it’s best to leave the kids at home as Oppenheimer is not a family film.

RELATED: Did Oppenheimer Use a Real Nuke?

Why Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer Is Rated R

Florence Pugh's Jean Tatlock crying
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Credit: Universal Pictures

Oppenheimer is rated R for "some sexuality, nudity, and language." So, while the film is about the development of the atomic bomb, the R-rating is not because of violence.

While Oppenheimer was also described as an “intense story” and a “horror movie”, this isn’t why the film was given an R-rating. The reason for the rating has something to do with J. Robert Oppenheimer’s personal life as seen in the film.

While Oppenheimer tackles heavy themes and serious topics such as politics, warfare, and more, portions of the film contain romance. Nolan said that the romance in the film “is as strong as I've ever done.”

So, Oppenheimer is rated R because the film contains some sex scenes along with nudity. There are sex scenes featuring J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) and Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh).

There's also language used in the movie and lots of smoking. Additionally, it must be noted that apart from the sex scenes, the film’s story and subject matter could also be too heavy for kids.

Nolan even described Oppenheimer’s story as an “adult story” (via AP News):

“We’re dealing with the most serious and adult story you could imagine — very important, dramatic events that changed the world and defined the world we live in today. You don’t want to compromise in any way,” Nolan said.

So, these are the reasons for the R-rating of Oppenheimer. These scenes and the R-rating of the film make Oppenheimer different from Nolan’s other films.

And notably, apart from the fact that Oppenheimer is Nolan’s longest film to date, it can also be considered Nolan’s most adult film yet.

You can watch the trailer for Oppenheimer below:

The film’s official summary, as provided by Universal Pictures:

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer is an IMAX-shot epic thriller that thrusts audiences into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.

RELATED: Is 'Oppenheimer' a Sequel or a Prequel to 'Tenet'?


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