Controversial sex scenes in Oppenheimer stir outrage over Gita link | Hollywood - Hindustan Times

Oppenheimer's sex scenes spark controversy, outrage over Bhagava Gita' link in intimate moment

Jul 22, 2023 10:47 AM IST

Christopher Nolan's film "Oppenheimer" has stirred controversy with its sex scenes, particularly due to the presence of the Bhagavad Gita.

Oppenheimer’s sex scenes have drawn mixed reactions from viewers, but particularly angered some viewers due to the presence of the Bhagavad Gita in one scene.

Bhagavad Gita reference in Oppenheimer sparks debate.(Universal Pictures)
Bhagavad Gita reference in Oppenheimer sparks debate.(Universal Pictures)

The sex scenes stirred controversy even before Oppenheimer premiered when it earned the first R-rating of a Christopher Nolan film in 20 years for nudity and sexuality.

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Oppenheimer is Nolan’s first film to include a sex scene, but the director felt it was important to accurately portray J. Robert Oppenheimer’s (Cillian Murphy) life and his passionate relationship with Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh), though some have found the scenes offensive.

Viewers have taken to Twitter to voice their anger at the film’s sex scene featuring the Bhagavad Gita.

A Twitter user @HarrisSultan blasted Oppenheimer as disrespectful for having a sacred book used in a sex scene.

Some viewers were also surprised that when Oppenheimer was released in India, the sex scene was blurred, but the Bhagavad Gita reference stayed despite being potentially seen as “blasphemy.”

Many also noted that the scene wasn’t historically accurate or necessary.

Some defended the decision, though, since the characters don’t regard the book as “holy”, and only as “Sanskrit.”.

The Bhagavad Gita in Oppenheimer: Explaining the choice and the outrage

The Bhagavad Gita’s presence in the sex scene isn’t the only time the book appears in Oppenheimer. Part of its significance in Oppenheimer is based on history, as in real life, Oppenheimer had a fascination with Sanskrit and became immersed in ancient Hindu texts, including the Bhagavad Gita. He was always curious and knowledgeable about religion and language, but it seemed the Gita resonated with him, considering it philosophical, but never calling himself a conventional Hindu.

A quote from Gita actually plays a big role in Oppenheimer, as when the eponymous physicist sees the terrible power of the atomic bomb he helped create, he says, “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds.”

This was also historically accurate, as the real-life Oppenheimer later said that it was this Gita quote that came to his mind when he first saw the explosion of the atomic bomb.

Therefore, it isn’t surprising that the Gita is prominent in Oppenheimer as he clearly had a connection to the Hindu script. While the one quote after the bomb’s creation may have been accurate, the historical accuracy of Oppenheimer’s sex scene featuring Tatlock telling Murphy’s titular character to recite the Bhagavad Gita during the act remains doubtful.

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Given the early reports of frontal nudity from both Murphy and Pugh, especially with their age difference, which already proved controversial, it will be interesting to see if further reaction from Hindu audiences will push Nolan to take better care of how and when to include such intimate scenes in his movies in the future.

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