One morning in the 1950s, Jon H. Else’s father pointed toward Nevada from their home in Sacramento. “There was this orange glow that suddenly rose up in the sky, and then shrank back down,” Else recalled.

It was, hundreds of miles away, an atomic weapon test: a symbol of the world that was created when a team of Americans led by the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer exploded the first nuclear bomb a decade earlier on July 16, 1945.

Growing up in the nuclear age left an impression on Else, now 78.

He was later a series producer of the award-winning “Eyes on the Prize,” a program on the civil rights movement, and directed documentaries about the Great Depression and Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. But before all that, in 1981, he made a documentary about Oppenheimer, the scientist whose bony visage graced the covers of midcentury magazines, and the bomb. It was called “The Day After Trinity,” a reference to that inaugural detonation.

Decades later, viewers are flocking to…