Christopher Nolan is the rare breed of filmmakers who believe in making cinema only for the theatres. In the age of rapid consumption of more and more screen time, Nolan’s lucid ideas spin magic on the big screen in the briefest span. ‘Time’ is one of Nolan’s favourite cinematic subjects and also the theme of his directorial next, Tenet.
Nolan’s Fixation With Time
The screenwriter and director encapsulate time and presents the most lucid ideas in mind-bending ways. In his previous works such as Interstellar, Inception and Memento he has played with the idea of time leaving fans both awed and confused.
The 2014 Interstellar saw time in relation to gravity. The time travel was made possible through the wormhole and Einstein’s Theory of Relativity comes to play, both visually and plot-wise. The movie is every space nerd’s wildest dream.
Before Interstellar, Nolan played with the idea of dilution of time in dreams in 2010 movie Inception. Lucid dreaming, having full control of creations of one’s dream was presented in multiple layers. A dream, within a dream, within a dream, within a dream, how many layers of dreams exactly? The time in theatres diluted for the audience, while the end of the movie still feels like a dream. Knowing the answer to whether Cobb finally met his kids or not – is the only catharsis fans need!
Watch: A brief history of time in Christopher Nolan Movies
And somehow it’s still harder to decide whether Leonard killed his wife in 2000 Memento. Isn’t it? The movie is beautifully structured in two timelines – one in colour and one in black and white. The editing of the movie keeps the pace so gripping that the audience can’t afford to blink an eye, fearing to miss any crucial moment.
With Tenet, the somehow never-Oscar-winning-director is attempting to invert time.
Nolan’s Time Inversion Tale with Its Own Demons
While not much is known about the movie yet, it is a well-known fact that Nolan not only demands the use of grey matter from his audience but also gives their photo memories a visual feast to cherish. There’s a reason why his movies deserve theatrical attention.
The trailer and prologue of the movie have brought forward the idea of ‘time inversion.’, and a background score worth obsessing about by Oscar-winning (Black Panther) Swedish composer Ludwig Göransson.
Like all other Nolan’s movies, the science behind Tenet is as scientific as it gets! Nolan in a recent interview spoke about how ‘time’ is treated in the movie, he said:
This is not a time-travel film. It deals with time and the different ways in which time can function. Not to get into a physics lesson, but inversion is this idea of material that has had its entropy inverted, so it’s running backwards through time, relative to us.
Watch: Tenet New Trailer
Time inversion means, if you look closely at 1:08 min during the trailer, on the whiteboard behind John David Washington, there’s Maxwell’s Demon thought experiment illustrated. Physicist James Maxwell suggested a thought experiment theory, Maxwell’s Demon, to hypothetically violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The law says, the total entropy (the measure of molecular disorder) of an isolated system can never decrease over time, and is constant if and only if all processes are reversible.
Maxwell’s Demon suggests, with a demon controlling a door between two chambers of gas. Imagine one red and one blue, allowing the red and blue particles to mix. Should this be possible, constants like time would be on a reversible axis. At the 01:01 min of the trailer, you can see the revolving chamber glowing in red and blue lights. It also makes sense why Washington is wearing a mask because while crossing the chambers you don’t want to mess with the entropy of your oxygen!
Another clue is hidden in the title of the movie. ‘Tenet’ the word is a palindrome. Read it backwards or forward its all the same. At 02:29 the way the title disappears from the middle and then sideways outwards, also suggests the structure of the story. One can expect the movie to start where it finishes – one timeline going reverse, one forward. Watch it backwards or forward, should be all the same, given Nolan’s precision!
The stark difference in the first and second trailer points at two possible timelines, one is going forward which shows Washington’s learning curve and the another showing him very sure of events around him, almost coming from a better place of understanding. The idea gives room for characters to find a midway to do or undo, whatever they need to save the world.
So, What’s Tenet All About?
Nolan previously confirmed that he took nearly six to seven years in perfecting the script and is quite adamant in releasing it only in theatres, currently shut due to the virus.
Tenet is supposed to take viewers on a time inversion trip where you don’t flow through time but time flows through you! Let that sink in for a moment. Looking at the trailer sequentially, one can find instances like when Washington is reversing the bullet from the shooting target opposed to firing at it. The big ship is floating back in the water and it’s interesting to find so many ocean shots.
The espionage drama has been delayed four times already and last week the news broke with WB’s staggering new plan to release the epic. Tenet will now open internationally on August 26 across 70 nations. The US release is slated for September 3 in selected cities.
Tenet features the relatively unknown John David Washington as the protagonist along with a stellar cast that includes Robert Pattinson, Michael Caine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh, Clemence Poesy, Dimple Kapadia and Himesh Patel.