"It is a crisis of conscience", says Oppenheimer towards the final moments of the film's climax, when the world's first ever nuclear warhead would be tested. This one observation by him sums up completely the underlying sentiments that make this film so powerful. I bought it, after finding an interest in the 'Manhattan Project', but with little expectation as to how the film would be and whether I'd even enjoy it. And I was to be pleasantly surprised.
Certainly, 'Shadow Makers' is a film of dialogue, rather than action - indeed it is the consequences of those words that set the action of building the atomic bomb in process. It is, rather, more central upon the characters - General Leslie Groves, (Paul Newman) hardheaded, and determined to bring the arduous work of the project to fruition; and the director of the project, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer (Dwight Schultz), a charismatic and intellectual genius, but understandably riddled by the moral dilemma of creating such a catastrophic weapon. Both actors excel in their performances, as do John Cusack and Bonnie Bedelia in their respective supporting roles.
My only quipp - and it is a pedantic one - is as to why the film title had to be changed for the British version. Groves and Oppenheimer - two opposing forces - epitomise metaphorically the 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy' of the American title. And the final scene of the film with the two bombs side by side - the "Fat Man" and the "Little Boy", is so profoundly moving I felt the hairs on my arms stand up.
I would truly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys thought-provoking matter. It is a hidden gem, and with the fact that these characters once lived and struggled amidst the real-life crisis of the Arms Race, the subject strikes home more than ever. A fantastic buy.