Look. It’s all fun and games to point out the clear similarities between Oppenheimer and Barbie, but only one of these socially-conscious summer blockbusters has dredged up the sunken memory that Christopher Nolan‘s older brother was arrested for murder after apparently using the alias “Matthew McCall-Oppenheimer.”
Just kidding. Obviously the release of Nolan’s latest work, a biopic of the man who gave the world the nuclear bomb, has mashed “Nolan” and “Oppenheimer” together in a way that brought this infamous family trivia back to the surface.
Twitter user Mr. Chau went deep on the information, using it to recontextualize everything Nolan’s made, homing in on the repeated motif of crime-flavored broken families. “Why does he keep making movies about crime and losing your family? Because his brother is a fugitive,” Mr. Chau opined.
Big if true, right? Turns out it is. According to Newsweek, Nolan’s older brother Matthew was charged with murder in Costa Rica in 2009, allegedly hired for the job and meant to pose as an heir to the Oppenheimer diamond fortune to get close to American financier Robert Cohen. A United States judge denied the request for extradition, but Matthew tried to escape while he was in custody and was sentenced to 14 months in prison. He was eventually released, and his current whereabouts are unknown.
In other words, his top is still spinning.
Thinking about one of my favorite tabloid images ever pic.twitter.com/cJXzEOTUDz
— christian (@speederaserhead) July 19, 2023
Naturally, the reminder of this painful family history has created a handful of conspiracies not only about Nolan’s personal motivations behind his films, but of why he might have made Oppenheimer in the first place. One is a reboot of the old “Disney made Frozen to bury search results about Walt’s head.”
Going down the rabbit hole of pondering if Christopher Nolan made OPPENHEIMER in order to completely bury any results about his brother when you Google ‘nolan oppenheimer’. https://t.co/NbiVUCp1nP pic.twitter.com/C9VOGkiEEY
— Simon (@SimonXIX) July 20, 2023
I think it’s safe to rule this out. Christopher Nolan has absolutely heard of The Streisand Effect. On the other hand, hauling IMAX cameras around the steppe lands just to trick the algorithm is a hell of a motivation, especially if you’re picking up a few Oscars on the way.
Learning that Christopher Nolan’s fugitive hitman brother’s codename is “Oppenheimer” is actually what turned me around on him entirely as an artist, immediately made me wanna revisit everything
— Mr. Chau (@Srirachachau) July 19, 2023