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Wonders Are Many


Jon Else

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Plot Summary

The spectacular opening to Jon Else's critically acclaimed "Wonders Are Many" - nuclear blast after blast in the desert, under the ocean, high in space - intimates what is to follow: a profound and triumphant fusing of art and science, humanity and technology, destruction and creation. "Wonders Are Many" traces a dazzling double-helix trajectory: one thread follows composer John Adams and director Peter Sellars as they work to create Doctor Atomic, the strange and beautiful opera about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the first atomic bomb; the other recounts the actual historical events that underpin the stage drama. Masterfully interwoven with recently declassified footage of nuclear testing in the deserts of the Southwest and the frenetic backstage action of the San Francisco Opera, the film creates an explosive vortex of performers and physicists, past and present, all of which is anchored by the enigmatic figure of Oppenheimer and channeled into high art by the creative power of Adams and Sellars. A magnificent pastiche of potent elements, "Wonders Are Many" allows us to see history - and ourselves - in a new light: we learn the humanity in science; the regret in discovery; and, unforgettably, the law that "matter can be neither created nor destroyed," but only transformed.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 13
  • Fresh: 11
  • Rotten: 2
  • Average Rating: 6.9/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: Enthralling documentary. – Stephen Holden, New York Times, Jul 16, 2008

Fresh: A dazzling case of the right filmmaker attached to the right subject, [director Jon] Else comprehensively captures the making of the 2005 San Francisco Opera. – Robert Koehler, Variety, Jul 7, 2010

Fresh: By the end, the beautifully shot Wonders Are Many has both probed issues of moral responsibility and scientific curiosity, and paid homage to the strange transcendence that can attend any anticipation of a thing created. – Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times, Jun 24, 2010

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Wonders Are Many
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