Christopher Nolan admits Tenet is "not all comprehensible"


Christopher Nolan has claimed his 2020 spy blockbuster Tenet isn't meant to be completely understood.

In the movie, John David Washington (son of the great Denzel) plays the Protagonist, a CIA agent recruited by a secret organisation to trace the origin of objects travelling backwards through time.

Except, that's very much a layman's explanation, as Tenet quickly descends into brain-melting physics and science-fiction.

john david washington in tenet
Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.

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Speaking to US talk show host Stephen Colbert for The Late Show, director Nolan was asked more generally whether fans should be able to "get your film[s], or experience your film[s]".

"If you are experiencing my film, then you are getting it," he replied. "I feel very strongly about that. I think that where people have experienced frustrations with my narratives in the past, sometimes I think they are slightly missing the point. It's not a puzzle to be unpacked, it's an experience to be had, preferably in a movie theater but also at home."

Speaking more specifically about Tenet, he was then asked if he understood everything, adding: "You're not meant to understand everything in Tenet. It's not all comprehensible."

christopher nolan

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Around the time of its release, Neil actor Robert Pattinson admitted he'd struggled to grasp what was really going on in the script.

"When I first read it both Chris and [producer] Emma [Thomas] were saying: 'Did you read this properly because everyone else took another two hours?'" he told The Irish Times.

"And I said: Oh s**t. Right up until the last week of the shoot, I was talking to John David and asking him some pretty fundamental questions about who my character was.

robert pattinson, john david washington, tenet
Melinda Sue Gordon - Warner Bros.

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"And John David was like: 'Wait, you don't know this?' But it's complicated! You're not just being fed the story. You're trying to uncover the mystery at the same time as the characters in the movie are.

"A lot of the stuff in this movie is expositional world-building stuff and a dense story. And the script makes that accessible to a layman. And that's really difficult to get that balance of making it sound like natural dialogue and trying to get across information that you probably need a PhD to understand properly.

"And then you have to put it in the mouth of someone like me, who can barely add."

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