Synopsis by Mark Deming
The creation of atomic weapons by a team of scientists led by Robert Oppenheimer in 1945 had a powerful impact on nearly every aspect of American culture, so it's not surprising that composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars, two leading figures in contemporary opera, would collaborate on a piece about Oppenheimer and his notorious invention. In 2005, Adams and Sellars teamed up to create Doctor Atomic, an opera that focuses on Oppenheimer during the 48 hours before the first test of the atomic bomb, and filmmaker Jon Else -- whose credits include The Day After Trinity, an award-winning documentary on Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project -- chronicles the writing and staging of this performance piece in the film Wonders Are Many. Wonders Are Many intercuts footage about Oppenheimer's life and career with a detailed look at Adams and Sellars deep in the creative process as they rehearse their cast, work out their staging, struggle to complete last-minute changes in the music and libretto, and attend to hundreds of other details as the date of the premiere performance draws near. Originally created for broadcast on public television, Wonders Are Many also was screened at a number of major film festivals, including the 2007 San Francisco International Film Festival.
archival-footage, arms-race, behind-the-scenes, composer, creativity, director, making-of, nuclear-weapon, opera, poetry, rehearsal, scientist