TENET - General Information

An original action espionage film releasing in IMAX on August 12, 2020
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It would’ve been shipped if it was coming on the 12th. It’ll be delayed probably.

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Man... I realllllly wish I was watching Tenet right about now...

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KEM wrote:
August 9th, 2020, 8:17 pm
Man... I realllllly wish I was watching Tenet right about now...
Don't we all :)

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Heytherebro wrote:
July 30th, 2020, 1:33 pm
According to competent blog World of Reel there is a screening coming for media within next 12 days.
We should get some reactions this week.

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Lincoln wrote:
July 1st, 2020, 11:52 pm
Google translate. Because no one who knows French could translate it into English.

PREMIÈRE: Christopher, the question everyone is asking today is will Tenet be released on July 17th in the US and on July 22nd in France?

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN: Good question! I have only one certainty at this point: the film will be ready. On our side in any case, it is almost finished and we can show it as soon as the theaters reopen.

If I ask you, it is because we have seen a lot of articles in the media explaining that you were doing everything to get cinemas to reopen as quickly as possible. Richard Gelfond, the boss of IMAX, even explained that «nobody in the USA is pushing for a reopening of theaters and a release of his film than Chris Nolan».

Once again, Tenet's release date is beyond my control. What I can tell you, however, is that your quotation from Richard [Gelfond] is incorrect. I’m a staunch advocate of cinemas, I’ve always been, and what he meant here was that I’m arguing for the survival of film culture as a whole.

Were your comments referring more to your column in the Washington Post than to the Tenet exit?

Presumably. At the start of the pandemic, I felt the need to make this clarification. To remind you of the context of this text [published by the Washington Post on March 20, 2020], I wanted to stress the fact that behind the films, there are people who work to release them, to make them visible. Exhibitors, projectionists, ushers, theater workers... The cinema is not just about glamor, the studio and the stars. And I wanted to stress that without these thousands of people who welcome spectators in the theaters, who make it possible to watch films, my job as a director would remain incomplete. It should be remembered that the war against the virus was going to affect exhibitors and the people who work in cinemas. That was the purpose of that opinion column!

So let's talk about Tenet. «Ask Chris», «Chris knows best.» I interviewed his producer Emma Thomas and his actors, but nobody wants to tell me what this film is about, which remains very mysterious as usual! Can you tell me more?

Ah ah. You will be disappointed, but no. I prefer that you discover it in theaters, free of any prejudice or comment. Still one of the greatest pleasures as a spectator, isn't it?

Upon discovering Tenet's first few minutes, one had the impression that, after Dunkirk which was an essay film, a visceral and almost dialogue-free play, this new opus marked your return to a more narrative cinema.

In any case, there are more dialogues on Tenet than on Dunkirk, that's for sure. (Laughs.) But it's more complicated than that... For each film, and Dunkirk was no exception, I try to find the form that best corresponds to what I want to tell. I always felt that the form had to match the substance - and vice versa. The two must fit together, merge. Personally, when I write, I can't think of what I'm saying and how I'm going to express it in a distinct way. Let's put it another way: I'm not trying to have a style; I'm looking for a form of narration that brings together both the information that I want to convey and the way in which this information will be transmitted... So, necessarily, each film is different since my stories, the themes that inhabit them are different. And I naturally approached Tenet with a very distant approach from Dunkirk.

When Dunkirk was released, you explained to me that you especially didn't want to make a war film. Tenet seems on the contrary very consciously to play on the register of the spy film...

Tenet actually uses all the codes of the genre. For Dunkirk, I didn't want to make a war film because I wasn't interested in following these conventions. No more than to overthrow them elsewhere. To tell my story, Dunkirk had to be a thriller under pressure, a Hitchcockian thriller so to speak. This is the stylistic approach that we favored. But for Tenet, a bit like Inception, I started from the genre. It served me here as a springboard; it’s a take-off board that allows spectators to be thrown into places they have never been before. In Inception, the heist film made us penetrate this indistinct area where dreams mingled with reality. Without these conventions, spectators would probably not have accessed these places so fluidly. In Tenet’s case, it’s espionage that serves as my common thread. The spy thriller.

Because I like this. I grew up, like all English kids, watching James Bond. Like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, the Bonds of the 70s marked me for life. It's part of my DNA. I discovered there the potential for escape from the cinema, I understood thanks to these films that this art invented worlds and realities that we could then inhabit. For the child that I was, it was a way to discover new horizons. In a literal sense, because the Bonds had that globetrotting aspect that was very refreshing.

You could have made a James Bond movie. It probably would've been easier, wouldn't it?

Above all, it would have been extremely futile: these films still exist and they are very good. What I was looking for was not to take a leap as such. I rather wanted to find my childhood feelings in front of these films. A feeling. Tenet, that's it: my attempt to recreate the excitement I had in front of this large-scale entertainment, which I could feel when I discovered these films. It was the memory of an emotion more than the codes of the films themselves.

Especially since the formula has been plundered, reproduced, sometimes even weakened by all contemporary action cinema...

Exactly: and this is the paradox we were immediately faced with. You had to be able to recreate that feeling of excitement I was telling you about. But for that, something new had to be offered. And that goes way beyond what those films were in the 70s. The play with time, which is at the heart of Tenet, had to allow it. This film gave me the opportunity to offer a new look at action cinema and its entertainment possibilities. When we use this word «entertainment», especially in English, it often has a negative connotation, tinged with superficiality. But for me, it means commitment, involvement. Viewers must have their eyes riveted on the screen, be immersed in worlds they have never trod; it is about giving the public an «experience» that will allow them, in the most intense way possible, to disconnect from their daily reality. This is what «making» a movie for me.

You talk about your childhood impressions, the sci-fi polish, the action... but the spy thriller is also a genre deeply rooted in society. Even the Bonds, in a way, speak of their time. These are films that are sometimes overtly political, which was never the case with your cinema. Does Tenet, from this point of view, approach a change in your filmography?

Hmmm. Your remark is interesting. I don't disagree with you, but it's funny because I've often been criticized for making films which, precisely, were a reflection of our time. Remember the Dark Knight reviews. However, the way I see it is different: when I write, I try to be as authentic as possible in the way I speak about my time. Not from a social or political point of view, of course, but from an emotional or personal point of view. Take Inception. Its structure with exploded points of view, shifts in states of consciousness. The film was written at the time of cell phones - the beginnings of the iPhone. People were becoming more and more introverted, immersing themselves in what these new tools offered them - and that inevitably fed me into writing Inception. For Tenet... I can't tell you anything. (Laughs.) Let's say I have the feeling that the John David Washington character is a hero of our time. He is torn apart, he is in full tension, stuck between his loyalty to his country and to humanity in general. When you look at what's going on today, I get the feeling that's a relevant idea, right? We are all linked, all interconnected, but where does our loyalty go? Which nation? What idea? What culture? I have the impression that this is a question that arises in a very crude way these days.

It was also one of the themes raised by the James Bond.

It is true. Today, some people in the industry are wondering whether viewers want to see films that remind them of what they are going through, or on the contrary whether to show them films that allow them to escape everyday life. Bonds are products of the Cold War, and all Bonds - no, not all Bonds, the best! - faced the issue of the nuclear threat. Viewers sat in front of films that depicted a world where tensions were very identifiable. But the hero was... reassuring: we knew he was going to take care of everything. (Laughs.) This reassuring aspect is very attractive. It is probably no coincidence that this is an important feature of cinema after 9/11. American films have become hypermilitarized since the attacks. In films of the past two decades, Hollywood has painted a portrait of the military in which military personnel appear over-trained, nearly invincible, bordering on superheroes. I think that's what we're talking about: the need to be reassured. Viewers may have needed to see professionals on screen acting on their behalf in spy or defense. It is soothing to get involved in a story where you are reminded of what worries you and where you are reassured at the same time. Specialists are there, and take care of solving the problems. We want to believe it. This need may be naive, I don't know, but it is real.
Will we come out of Tenet reassured?

Ah ah! Yes. Just the character of John David is reassuring.

This is the other datum that seems to me to constitute the genre and which is at the same time very far from your cinema: the cynicism of heroes. Bond or Bourne are characters who, even if they end up doing good, do it for very selfish motives. On the contrary, in your films, the heroes are always free from cynicism...

This is one of the things we thought about a lot - both while writing and on set with John David. The «a man has to do what he has to do» side of the characters we talk about didn't interest me much, it's true. James Bond talks about the British Empire, his country and what he does for the homeland, but it sometimes rings false in the mouth of such a carefree guy. There have been many questions about the consistency of Tenet's main character. If he is ready to sacrifice himself to save people, for the Good, for his country or for the world, then he must be deeply empathetic: Driven by a certain idealism, and above all not be detached. We therefore wanted to accentuate his character, to make him a character of confidence, a hero ready to do anything for his ideals, but who never gives in to cynicism. And, to answer your previous question, that, for me, is reassuring. The character as I wrote it and as John David captured it is... full of decency. It gives a particular color to the film and maybe even to the notion of heroism. It’s very optimistic.

You'll think it's an obsession, but this lack of cynicism has been the hallmark of two or three Bonds anyway. I think of Brosnan in GoldenEye and...

Timothy Dalton!


Killing is not playing! Timothy brought a very surprising and refreshing gentlemanly side to the character, that's right. But it seemed a little... how to say... out of tune. However, it was also in Fleming's books. James Bond has this «disunited» side. He's very selfish, he likes to have fun, sleep with all these girls, kill people. But he's doing it for the «right reasons». This is the big difference with the novels of John le Carré where the characters are on the contrary extremely affected by the cynicism of the world around them. They are tired of this cynicism. Like Harry Palmer [the British spy character created by writer Len Deighton]. We tried to think through all of these notions and bring something new to this conversation.

Going back to the origin of Tenet, Emma Thomas explained to me that this film synthesized a lot of conceptual ideas that you had in mind for years. What is it exactly?

It's very complicated for me to talk about it, so I'll give you a concrete example. Without spoiler. See that moment in the trailer where the character of John David fires a bullet and the bullet leaves its point of impact and goes into the barrel? It's an image that has haunted me for years. Literally. This plan encapsulates for me the idea of the manipulation of time and the laws of physics. And I've been working on it for over twenty years. It also appears in different forms in several of my feature films, notably in Memento. People who know my films will see that I synthesize in one shot all my fascination with time and with narration.

You talk about Memento: in this film, the hero relives a traumatic episode in his life upside down. Certain effects seen in the trailer for Tenet and in the eight minutes of the prologue actually make you think a lot...

There are obvious points of comparison between the two films. But in Memento, time advanced while retreating. At Tenet, the thinking is different. It is no longer a question of wondering how time works, but rather of asking yourself: what if it were true? What if it really happened, if it wasn't just a concept, an idea for a screenwriter, but reality?

All your films start from a very precise scientific premise. In the case of Tenet, what is it?

The laws of physics are always symmetrical. Time goes forward or backward. NASA just announced a few days ago that we might have found a parallel universe where time flows backwards. All the laws of physics are symmetrical, except one: entropy. Tenet's story is based on this concept: what if you could change the direction of time? I've been working on these issues for... six or seven years. That's what Emma really meant: Tenet synthesizes everything that has obsessed me over the years.
Dunkirk explored the depth of time, the layers of time. There, you are interested in the directions of time, is that it?

If we want. Dunkirk spoke of the flexibility of time, of its different textures. For Tenet, the idea is that time can take different directions. But the real question I ask myself is how to transform these concepts into a narrative matrix? Because these films must first operate on the spy or thriller register. I don't force anyone to ask existential questions about time. (Laughs.) I use these obsessive questions to engage the viewer a little more.
In the midst of an industry that has generally favored the ease, even the stupefaction of the public, you continue to stimulate your spectators, to have total confidence in their capacity for intelligence...

I understand what you mean, but I don't reason like that at all. I don't think «of the public». I am part of the public! We are all the audience. We cannot dissociate ourselves from spectators, or put ourselves in an observer position. In my opinion, it's very dangerous, as a director, to think saying «they're going to say that to themselves» or «they're going to think like that». Who are «they»?

So let's say you have a blind faith in the power of cinema...
I had the chance to make Hollywood films, big budgets, blockbusters, which were a real success. Each time, the studio gave me a little more freedom for the next one... The question then arises: how to use this confidence and this freedom? How to move forward, how to push the limits a little more with each new project? I have experienced this each time as a huge responsibility. Not like an indulgence, a blank cheque or a free hand. Really like a responsibility. There are so many storytellers around the world who would love to have such an opportunity that I couldn't waste this chance. We have to take risks. Pushing boundaries and barriers. This is what has always guided me. On Tenet, I had resources that few filmmakers have. So it was necessary to do what I believe in above all. Don't make a movie just to make a movie. This is not a job. This is not business! It's a passion.
For Dunkirk, you had shown films to your team to give them indications on the tone of the film. Did you do it for Tenet?

No! Precisely for the reasons I explained to you earlier: everyone knows the great classics of spy thriller. The Bonds are in our DNA (especially the English on my team). My ambition was to do what Leone did with the western. When he directs Once Upon a Time in the West, he doesn't need to see westerns again. He only needs his memories, his feelings. This is the only way to tackle the iconography of a genre. Once Upon a Time in the West is a wester about the west. Not a western on the way we look at westerns. For Tenet, I didn't need to study the action scenes of the spy movies I know by heart. I wanted to make a unique film that expresses my love for the films I grew up with.
One last attempt to unravel the mystery of the film. Can you give us the keys to the palindrome title? What does this word Tenet correspond to? Is it a reference to the magic square of the first Christians?

The palindrome is important to the story and to the organization. The idea of faith is also very present in history. But not how you think. Tenet deals with what we cannot know, with a reality which cannot be verified. And it's a word that works like a sesame; this is the name of the organization the character is recruited from. I'm not sure that helps you see it any clearer. (Laughs.)
Last edited by Nomis on August 10th, 2020, 5:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Use spoiler tags for large walls of text!!

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Thank you man! :gonf:

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What’s this about the soundtrack?

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