Brussels/Berlin 2023

Tuesday 25th July 2023 – What to do with a non-day? Go to the movies!

Today was to be another non-day, with my train to Brussels not due to leave until 10.56am. This being the case, after a short workout and a shower, I dragged my case to the Hauptbahnhof and deposited in a locker. I then bought myself a cinema ticket to see “Oppenheimer”. Now, obviously I am not going to understand a movie dubbed in German, but thankfully there are a number of cinemas that show movies “OV” or “Original Version”.

The cinema was in Potsdamer Platz, so I had coffee and a croissant in the shopping centre next door before buying a large sugar free iced tea and taking my seat. It turned out that I had purchased a seat with a leg-raising mechanism so it was exceptionally comfortable. This was just as well as the movie was 3 h long. It was very, very good however, and told J Robert Oppenheimer’s story from his early days as a researcher in quantum theory through the Manhattan Project and the years after. A strong focus was on the struggles he had justifying to himself the effect his work had, the death toll from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings being estimated as in the region of 129 000 to 226 000. This is something I often discuss with the children at my school. Being a researcher myself and one who has “new science” to his name, how would I feel if my research was used to kill anyone, let alone such a large number.

There was also an extensive sequence involving the removal of Oppenheimer’s security clearance and this the political influence he had. This was particularly important as the development of the “Hydrogen” bomb as proposed by Edward Teller (to me of “Jahn-Teller Distortion” fame).

I would recommend this movie to anyone who is interested in science but also in the politics of the era. It was funny in a way watching this in Berlin as events here were featured fairly heavily as having an effect on the events in the movie.

I left the cinema as the titles were scrolling at 3.45pm and went straight to the ticket desk to see if there was any space in the 4.00pm showing of the other major summer blockbuster, the “Barbie” movie. As luck would have it there was so second ticket and a box of nachos purchased, I entered another screening room.

This movie was a much lighter and shorter than the first but no-less an entertaining watch. The concept was that Barbie lives in a perfect Barbie world until she has to enter the real world. In her world she is respected, has any job, is president etc., and in the real world she is marginalised and disrespected. She is also seen in a very different light in the “real” world to what she expected.

The movie has a lot to say about feminism and the role of a character like Barbie in the modern world. At the very least, it will start conversations. I could hear people discussing the movie in German but the words “Barbie” and “feminism” stood out. I would recommend this movie to anyone who wants to smile but also wants to have something to discuss with friends.

I walked from the cinema back to the train station. Just in the other side of the water was a cocktail bar so I took the opportunity to have a “Gin Fizz” before collecting my case from the luggage locker.

As luck would have it, there was a street food fair with some entertainment on one side of he station so I furnished myself with steak-in-a-roll and a beer, alternately watching the entertainment, and reading my book. This I managed to “kill the time” before the departure of my train.

I hurtled west.

Tuesday 25th July 2023 - What to do with a non-day? Go to the movies!

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