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Christopher Nolan Broke Tradition on ‘Tenet’ by Not Showing Cast the Films That Inspired It

Robert Pattinson is hyping "Tenet" as a film "so insane it becomes almost frightening."



Warner Bros.

One of Christopher Nolan’s filmmaking traditions is to gather his cast and crew before production starts and screen movies that serve as inspiration to the project they’re working on together. Before filming “The Dark Knight,” for instance, Nolan rounded up all of his crews’ department heads to watch Michael Mann’s “Heat.” Ahead of “Dunkirk,” Nolan shared films such as “All Quiet on the Western Front” and “The Battle of Algiers” with his cast. In a new interview with Total Film magazine, Nolan reveals he intentionally broke this longstanding tradition with “Tenet” because the goal was to break through any spy movie influence that might exist.

“Interestingly, this is one of the first films I’ve ever made where we didn’t do any screenings,” Nolan said. “And the reason was, I think we all have the spy genre so in our bones and in our fingertips. I actually wanted to work from a memory and a feeling of that genre, rather than the specifics.”

“It’s totally in my bones,” Nolan continued about the spy genre. “I don’t need to reference the movies and look at them again. It’s about trying to re-engage with your childhood connection with those movies, with the feeling of what it’s like to go someplace new, someplace fresh. It actually has to take them somewhere they haven’t been before, and that’s why no one’s ever been able, really, to do their own version of James Bond or something. It doesn’t work. And that’s not at all what this is. This is much more my attempt to create the sort of excitement in grand-scale entertainment I felt from those movies as a kid, in my own way.”

“Tenet” is Nolan’s spin on the espionage epic that centers around agents played by John David Washington and Robert Pattinson who use “time inversion” to prevent World War III. Pattinson reiterated to Total Film that talking about “Tenet” is a near impossible task. Whatever Nolan has up his sleeve, Pattinson says it’s crazy to the point of scary.

“There’s a point where you’re like, it’s kind of cool, and it becomes so insane that it’s almost frightening,” Pattinson said when asked to describe the movie. “I sound like such a moron talking about this stuff. Because on top of the, uh — how would I even say this? Quite advanced theoretical physics; I think I’m allowed to say that — it’s just got a billion different ways to read it. It’s so complicated; if it wasn’t Chris Nolan doing it, you’d be like, ‘This is an impossible movie.’”

Warner Bros.’ July 17 release date for “Tenet” remains for now, although all signs are pointing to an inevitable release delay.

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