The Day After Trinity

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The Day After Trinity
Photograph by Philippe Halsman (1958)
Directed by Jon H. Else
Produced by Jon H. Else
Peter Baker
(executive producer)
Written by David Peoples
Janet Peoples
Jon Else
Starring Hans Bethe
Robert Serber
Robert Wilson
Frank Oppenheimer
I.I. Rabi
Freeman Dyson
Stanislaw Ulam
J. Robert Oppenheimer (archive footage)
Narrated by Paul Frees
Music by Martin Bresnick
Cinematography Tom McDonough
David Espar
Stephen Lighthill
Edited by David Peoples
Ralph Wikke
Distributed by Pyramid Films
Release dates
  • January 20, 1981 (1981-01-20)
Running time 88 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Day After Trinity (a.k.a. The Day After Trinity: J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Atomic Bomb) is a 1980 documentary film directed and produced by Jon H. Else in association with KTEH public television in San Jose, California. The film tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904–1967), the theoretical physicist who led the effort to build the first atomic bomb, tested in July 1945 at Trinity site in New Mexico. Featuring candid interviews with several Manhattan Project scientists, as well as newly declassified archival footage, The Day After Trinity was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature of 1980,[1] and received a Peabody Award in 1981.

The film's title comes from an interview seen near the conclusion of the documentary. Robert Oppenheimer is asked for his thoughts on Sen. Robert Kennedy's efforts to urge President Lyndon Johnson to initiate talks to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. "It's 20 years too late," Oppenheimer replies. After a pause he states, "It should have been done the day after Trinity."


in order of first appearance[2]
  • Haakon Chevalier — writer, friend of J. Robert Oppenheimer
  • Hans BetheLos Alamos physicist, Nobel laureate in physics
  • Francis Fergusson — writer, friend of J. Robert Oppenheimer
  • Robert Serber — physicist, Los Alamos
  • Robert Wilson — physicist, Los Alamos
  • Frank Oppenheimer — physicist, Los Alamos, brother of Robert Oppenheimer
  • I.I. Rabi — Manhattan Project physicist, Nobel laureate
  • Freeman Dyson — physicist, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University
  • Stirling Colgate — physicist, Los Alamos
  • Stan Ulam — mathematician, Los Alamos
  • Robert Porton — G.I., at Los Alamos during World War II
  • Francoise Ulam — writer, wife of Stanislaw Ulam
  • Dorothy McKibben — former head, Manhattan Project office, Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Robert Krohn — physicist, Los Alamos
  • Jane Wilson — writer, wife of Robert Wilson
  • Jon Else — filmmaker, interviewer
  • Holm Bursom — rancher, Socorro, New Mexico
  • Dave MacDonald — rancher, Socorro, New Mexico
  • Susan Evans — resident, New Mexico
  • Elizabeth Ingram — merchant, San Antonio, New Mexico

Appearing on archive film[edit]

Trinity test, the first nuclear explosion (July 16, 1945)

Home video releases[edit]

The Day After Trinity was released on VHS cassette by Pyramid Home Video, and on Region 1 DVD by Image Entertainment. A CD-ROM that was released in 1995 included interviews, transcripts, annotations, biographies and other information.[3]


  1. ^ "The 53rd Academy Awards (1981) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-10-07. 
  2. ^ Annotations from transcript of The Day After Trinity produced by PTV Publications, associated with the documentary's national broadcast on PBS April 29, 1981
  3. ^ Nichols, Peter M. Home Video, The New York Times, August 18, 1995

External links[edit]