One of the many ways Oppenheimer stirred up controversy upon its release came due to its sex scenes featuring the nudity of Cillian Murphy and Florence Pugh.
The scenes have already been bizarrely censored in some regions, by zooming into Pugh's face, blurring her back, and adding a CGI black dress in one moment.
Oppenheimer's Sex Scenes Cut for Chinese Release
In the latest newsletter from Puck's Matt Belloni, the Hollywood insider revealed Oppenheimer's scenes featuring Florence Pugh and Cillian Murphy have been cut from the movie's theatrical release in China.
The removed sex and nudity scenes depict Pugh's Jean Tatlock, an American psychiatrist, having sex with Murphy's J. Robert Oppenheimer, with multiple of these moments scattered throughout the three-hour runtime:
- It was during one of these several sexual encounters, J. Robert Oppenheimer uttered his most famous quote, "I am become death, destroyer of worlds.”
- Another took place during Oppenheimer's famed 1954 security clearance hearing in the head of his wife Kitty (Emily Blunt) to convey her jealousy for Tatlock, even 10 years after her suicide.
Over a month after Oppenheimer's release in theaters across most of the world, the movie will finally arrive for Chinese audiences on Thursday, August 30.
While Oppenheimer's Chinese release was allowed to keep its anti-Communism references intact - despite the country's Communist political orientation - censors asked for Pugh's topless screentime to be removed in accordance with their no-nudity policy for Western-imported releases.
Murphy commented on Oppenheimer's sex scenes during an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald in which he stated they were written "deliberately" to get the movie's R-rating, praising the moments as "so f***ing powerful:"
“Those scenes were written deliberately. [Christopher Nolan] knew that those scenes would get the movie the rating that it got. And I think when you see it, it’s so f***ing powerful. And they’re not gratuitous. They’re perfect. And Florence is just amazing."
Why Oppenheimer's Cut Sex Scenes Hurt the Movie
Chinese censors banning or editing the latest movies is nothing new for Hollywood, with Marvel Studios only just recently resuming releases in the Asian territory after an almost-three-year ban that began with Black Widow and lifted with a late release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Given the abundance of anti-Communist comments in Oppenheimer, it's almost surprising to see the movie released in China at all as the country has been governed under the Chinese Communist Party since 1949, 74 years ago.
Regardless, those major moments will remain intact for Chinese release, while Murphy and Pugh's sex scenes are left behind on the cutting room floor.
The sex scenes are arguably vital to the development of Robert Oppenheimer's relationships with both Florence Pugh's Jean Tatlock and Emily Blunt's Katherine "Kitty" Oppenheimer, and therefore, the biopic's story overall.
Tatlock's suicide ultimately devasted Robert Oppenheimer, and his romantic and sexual relationship with her was even used against him during his 1954 security clearance hearing due to her communist ideology. Not to mention, Kitty Oppenheimer continued to be jealous of her husband's former relationship with Tatlock as their relationships had once overlapped.
So only time will tell how the movie flows for Chinese audiences without those defining character and relationship moments, as much of the on-screen romance between Oppenheimer and Tatlock was conveyed through their sexual encounters.
Oppenheimer is playing now in most territories and will open in Chinese theaters on Thursday, August 30.