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Christopher Nolan Doesn't Think You Should 'Understand Everything' In 'Tenet'

By Andrew Sanford | Film | February 8, 2024 |

By Andrew Sanford | Film | February 8, 2024 |


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Watching Tenet at home was an exciting experience for my wife and I. It was 2020! We missed going to the movies and weren’t sure if we’d ever be able to go again. So, watching a new film at home was exciting until it wasn’t. I did not care for Tenet. I can’t remember many of the specifics, but I do recall saying at one point, “Oh, they don’t want me to understand what’s going on.” It turns out that I was kind of right!

Christopher Nolan, gearing up for what will likely be a fruitful award season for the Writer/Director, sat down with Stephen Colbert for an extensive interview. At one point, they touched on Tenet. When asked if he understood the film, Nolan says, “You’re not meant to understand everything.” He even gets into a story about how he doesn’t like explaining his movies when the goal is to be ambiguous.

When I saw the headline for the interview, I went in with my dukes up. There was a sense of justification in knowing that the director of a film I didn’t understand didn’t think I should. The snag is that his reasons are not wrong! Films are an experience. You may not get every aspect of a work. As he says, everything isn’t a puzzle to be solved. I expected a fight and instead came away wanting to rewatch Tenet (kind of).

It’s also worth watching the interview to watch Christopher Nolan excitedly recommend Tokyo Drift and quickly try to avoid spoiling the ending. Nolan is a big fan of the Fast & Furious franchise. They are not guilty pleasures. They are big old action movies that he loves, and he specifically references the mythology of the most recent films.

I don’t know if I’ll rewatch Tenet anytime soon. I do have a new bit of respect for it. I’m a fan of Directors taking big swings, even if they don’t work on me. I won’t always say a movie is good if intent and artistic vision are prevalent. I will give it more leeway, though.



Header Image Source: CBS