Did Oppenheimer Seriously Mess Up the American Flag in the Movie?..

Did Oppenheimer Seriously Mess Up the American Flag in the Movie?..
Image credit: Universal Pictures

Nolan's new film used the wrong USA flag, and while most people didn't notice that when watching it themselves, the Internet is ablaze ever since the mistake's been pointed out.

Oppenheimer is not a historical drama; it's a biopic, an interpretation of American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Still, even though Christopher Nolan never claimed that his movie was to be perceived as a history lesson, some things are just kind of expected to be researched.

Don't get us wrong: it took quite some time until someone noticed that the United States flag used in Oppenheimer was incorrect, and until that singular person pointed it out, everyone was chill about it. But the very fact that such a major historical inaccuracy even happened upset many Americans...and made even more laugh.

The notion came from the Director of Election Policy of Rainey Center, Andy Craig, who wrote about it on his Twitter.

"[Oppenheimer] was good and all, but I'll be that guy and complain they used 50-star flags in a scene set in 1945," Craig wrote and attached a related screenshot.

If you look closely, you can see that he's right. The little flags some people in the audience hold have the stars arranged in staggered rows (the way they are today) instead of in a grid (the way they were in 1945). The difference is due to the fact that it wasn't until 1959 that President Eisenhower established the formal design for the 50-star flag that we have to this day.

Did Oppenheimer Seriously Mess Up the American Flag in the Movie?.. - image 1

Prior to him signing Executive Order 10834, the United States had been using a 48-star flag that didn't represent Alaska and Hawaii, and on that flag, the grid arrangement was used. Since the events of Oppenheimer take place in 1945, this is the version of the American flag that had to be used in Christopher Nolan's movie.

While some people were genuinely upset by this historical inaccuracy, others found the situation pretty funny and began exercising their wit down in the comment section.

"They had to [use the 50-star flag] or modern audiences wouldn't be able to tell what country it was. Sacrifice of accuracy for understanding," Twitter user LosersOnDrugs wrote.

Some users even suggest that it wasn't a mistake in the first place, and instead, this was part of director Nolan's vision. Considering how the black-and-white scenes were addressing the "objective truth" and the colored scenes represented J. Robert Oppenheimer's memories about the events, the physicist wouldn't have remembered the star arrangement difference years later.

But likely, it's just an honest mistake on the filming crew's part, and while the more conservative parts of the audience are outraged by it, this overlook didn't ruin the experience for the vast majority of the viewers.