This cubist painting titled "Woman Sitting with Crossed Arms" by Pablo Picasso appears at the beginning of Nolan's "Oppenheimer".
Cubism was a style of painting invented in the early 20th century that portrayed subjects from various perspectives, making them appear abstract and fragmented.
Cubism was a new way of viewing the world, it was creatively revolutionary. Picasso's painting - and the artworks that appear at the beginning of the film - are meant to set the mood for J. Robert Oppenheimer's contribution to a radical new way of life.
World War II and the atomic bomb would change the landscape of the human experience. Oppenheimer's wife, in fact, will tell him, "The world is changing, reforming. This is your moment."
Oppenheimer, though, was more than aware that the atomic bomb he created could more than change the world, it could destroy it. Of himself he said , "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."
Picasso's painting of the woman sitting on a chair is a reference also to Jean Tatlock, one of the women Oppenheimer had an affair with and whose absence towards the end of the film haunts him later in life.
Jean is the distorted Woman Sitting on the chair; her beauty and idealism haunts Oppenheimer's conscience. Her terrible end represents one of the many victims of Oppenheimer's moral choices.
Just as Picasso's sensibility would drive the artist to portray the atrocities of war in Guernica, Christopher Nolan's portrayal of the incidents revolving around the creation and execution of the atomic bomb in Oppenheimer paint a fragmented, poignant perspective of the atrocities of war.
Painting, like film - albeit a beautiful medium - can portray the [occasional] horror of the human existence.
By Edgar Avendano @latinofilmmaker