Christopher Nolan says ‘Tenet’ is “not all comprehensible’

Christopher Nolan has spoken about his 2020 film Tenet and criticisms that the film is too convoluted to follow.

Speaking on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Nolan spoke about the complexities of his films, touching on Tenet’s time-bending themes in particular.

When asked by Colbert if viewers have to “get” Nolan’s films or if they can just experience it, the filmmaker said: “If you experience my film you are getting it. I feel very strongly about that. I think where people encounter frustration with my narratives in the past, sometimes I think that they’re 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, hopefully in an unbroken period.


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“It’s an experience to be had, that is the point of it, that’s the feeling of it. Everything else, if people are interested to talk about it or debate it more, if ideas resonate, that’s a huge bonus.

Nolan went on to add: “You’re not meant to understand everything in Tenet. It’s not all comprehensible. It’s a bit like asking if I know what happens with the spinning top at the end of Inception. I have to have my idea of it for it to be a valid, productive ambiguity, but the point of it is that it’s an ambiguity. As Emerald likes to say, the point is that the character doesn’t care if it falls or not.”

Tenet scored a four-star review from Nick Levine for NME. Levine wrote: “Tenet is rarely less than thrilling to watch. It’s a challenging, ambitious and genuinely original film packed with compelling performances – Washington and Debicki are especially excellent – which confirms Nolan as the master of the cerebral blockbuster. And if you can, you need to see this visually stunning movie on a big screen.”

Nolan’s latest work, Oppenheimer, has been hailed as his best work to date, and was given a glowing five-star review here at NME. Paul Bradshaw wrote: “Not just the definitive account of the man behind the atom bomb, Oppenheimer is a monumental achievement in grown-up filmmaking. For years, Nolan has been perfecting the art of the serious blockbuster – crafting smart, finely-tuned multiplex epics that demand attention; that can’t be watched anywhere other than in a cinema, uninterrupted, without distractions. But this, somehow, feels bigger.”