Wonders Are Many



PARK CITY -- Creation, whether in science or art, is wondrous. That's the main thrust of "Wonders Are Many: The Making of Doctor Atomic," filmmaker Jon Else's inspired documentary about the cataclysmic 48 hours before the test of the first atomic bomb, as refracted through the rehearsal of an opera conceived by Peter Sellars and composed by John Adams.

With a sobering and enlightening leitmotif of historical footage and clips of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his scientific team, Else focuses on the splendidly grandiose attempt of theater guru Sellars and his artistic team's attempt to distill the enormity of the creation of the A-bomb. Even for those of us who find it most wondrous that Sellars is able to secure funding even from the cultural elite for his grandiose piffles, "Wonders" is a complex and illuminating glimpse into human creativity.

Many will be surprised to learn that Oppenheimer had a poet's sensibility, read John Dunne, mastered many languages and grappled with philosophical complexities. In Oppenheimer, the scientific mind fused with the poet's sensibility. The fact that such a Renaissance man was the visionary for the most devastating weapon ever conceived by mankind at the time is one of the paradoxes, ironies and other complexities that Else has explored in this compelling documentary.

Tightly layered with uncanny insights and profound illuminations, "Wonders" is a masterful distillation of explosive elements: science, art, psychology and humanity.

Actual Films
Producers: Bonni Cohen, Jon Else
Screenwriter-director-cinematographer: Jon Else
Editor: Deborah Hoffman
Running time -- 104 minutes
No MPAA rating