The king of "smart blockbusters" is back. The enigmatic Tenet, finally announced for August 12, should follow the straight line set by Christopher Nolan: to offer big-screen films whose form and content meet, around philosophical concepts. In this complicated period for theatrical releases, will the new feature by the author of Inception and Interstellar bring us back to the big screens? We decipher.
Nolan, a summer writer
Batman Begins, Inception, The Dark Knight Rises, Dunkirk: many of Christopher Nolan's films have enjoyed a summer release. If the chance of the calendar or the contingencies of competition in cinemas could explain these seasonal choices, it seems surprising that such films, very serious, are shown during a period that is not usually devoted to auteurism. This is indeed the challenge Tenet will have to take up on July 22nd: to succeed in the same way in imposing the very particular cerebral universe of the British director at a time of (probable) revival in cinemas. However, having become one of the most adored filmmakers in the world, the author could succeed once again, as he appears to be an outsider who differentiates himself from the stinking blockbusters that usually punctuate our summers.
Tenet: change in continuity
Christopher Nolan's latest summer blockbuster took us to the beaches of Dunkirk. To recount the tragic maritime evacuation of British soldiers cornered by the Wehrmacht in the spring of 1940, the director and screenwriter took the narrative side of cutting the plot into three juxtaposed temporalities: the same film shows a week of infantrymen, a day of civilian sailors and 40 minutes of airmen engaged in the battle. A game on the concept of duration that seems to be at the heart of Tenet.
Based on the trailer and initial plot elements, Christopher Nolan's new feature film tells the story of people who are able to live time in reverse. A somewhat abstract principle, explored by physicists who are looking to see if the direction of the "time arrow" can be reversed, and which the filmmaker intends to bring to the screen. Just as he was interested in the wormhole and relativity in Interstellar, the director thus continues to build his universes by taking very elaborate intellectual (or psychological with Inception) theories at their source.
Above all, the general public
At Nolan, the deployment of a narrative concept goes hand in hand with great visual inventiveness. Imagining the "fourth dimension" in Interstellar by means of a tesseract, considering dreams within dreams as dizzying architectural constructions in Inception, or editing a film entirely upside down with Memento were all opportunities for the filmmaker to play with the genres he has invested. The result is feature films that command admiration, so much so that the content and form fit together perfectly, provided that one quickly understands the cinematic mechanics deployed.
Tenet, starring John David Washington, alongside Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki, should not escape these peculiarities: this summer, we can't wait to finally discover the new brain puzzle of a filmmaker who reconciles great spectacle and scientific imagination.