Tenet is a 2020 science fiction action thriller film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who produced it with Emma Thomas. A co-production between the United Kingdom and United States, it stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. The film follows a secret agent who learns to manipulate the flow of time to prevent an attack from the future that threatens to annihilate the present world.
Nolan took more than five years to write the screenplay after deliberating about Tenet‘s central ideas for over a decade. Pre-production began in late 2018, casting took place in March 2019, and principal photography lasted six months, from May to November, in Denmark, Estonia, India, Italy, Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema shot on 65 mm film and IMAX. Scenes of time manipulation were filmed both backwards and forwards. Over one hundred vessels and thousands of extras were used.
Delayed three times because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tenet was released in the United Kingdom on August 26, 2020, and United States on September 3, 2020, in IMAX, 35 mm, and 70 mm. It was the first Hollywood tent-pole to open in theaters after the pandemic shutdown, and grossed $363 million worldwide, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film of 2020. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, and won Best Visual Effects at the 93rd Academy Awards; it was also nominated for Best Production Design. (source :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tenet_(film) )
Nolan in this movie, proved to be a visionary. He will have to be so, to present something so spectacularly brain-draining, in such a beautiful combination of chaos, thrill and suspense. Personally, watching it once or twice, may not be enough to truly grasp what the message or event the plot is. Not to mention, the more recent fan theories that have enveloped it. This article, however, is not about that, so lucky break for us.
If you had not watched it, please, this is a warning, there may be some spoilers that would make you hate me and we do not want that. If you have not watched it and want to know about it, well, you will not also be getting a lot from this article, so feel free. Trying to do a smooth segue here, but if this is your first time reading an article from this blog site, you may want to read the previous articles which highlights why I am trying my best to find some practical lesson from movies (if you had, thank you for doing so!).
So, here are three things I learned from the movie.
Lesson 1: The Past, Present and Future are intertwined
Time, a concept, an experience or the progression of events from past to present into the future. We have learned how to measure it, but truly, it is hubris to claim that we have gained the mastery of understanding it. Should you like a more explicit detail of time, you may check this link and read more, but this is not about time per se, but how the movie uses the beautiful mystery of time to teach us some lessons about ourselves, others and the orchestra of life.
Tenet, in all its convoluted story lines, intimates that the past, affects the present, and it in turn, ultimately shapes the future, but most certainly, too, the future has implications reaching our past and even the present. (I think I just lost all of you there, I even feel nauseated myself).
The movie begins with a CIA agent. The Protagonist, who was tested and entrusted by an organization called Tenet, with a mission to follow the trail of inverted bullets, bullets that deviate from the physical laws of nature (the second law of thermodynamics), which the organization thinks, together with other similar items, come from the future and are remnants of some future war.
In the course of this investigation our Protagonist, gets to meet his handler, who points him to an arms dealer in Mumbai, who happens to be a member of Tenet and informs them that a Russian arms dealer has the device that can invert items.
Fairly straightforward, until, we start seeing multiple unexpected events that course the movement of the Protagonist and his handler, directly in contact with their future and ultimately, shaping the ending of the movie which is in the past.
If you are about to give up on this article, what I am pointing to, is that it may not be quite literal that the future us can collide with our present selves face to face, but the actions that we do every day in our lives will ripple through time and oblivious to it, we may be,we are not exempt from its consequences.
Yes, that elevator we did not hold for another person, the garbage we did not segregate, is unlikely to haunt our past, but will definitely affect the future, which then, technically, once we get to that future will make us regret the past, for how socially irresponsible we are for the present.
Our perspectives then ought to change and may we always think, that every other man’s life affect another.
That what we do today, even the tiniest, will ripple throughout the ages. So, may we, daily, strive to do what is right, to secure a better future, where we shall not feel ashamed looking back at our past (from that standpoint).
Lesson 2: The Mind perceives, but the Heart Knows
The movie quite distinctly, in its creative intricacy of violating known science did not leave the part of being human. We get introduced to an art curator and wife, who amidst, what most would see, befit a the description of a happy life is trapped in the present, while hoping to have made better choices in the past and fearing the future.
Though, many of us, do not really give it much thought, but such is our daily life, is it not?
We may not always feel a sense of regret at everything and sure we may have trained our minds to be more positive in letting go of things in the past, to make sure it never happens again, but emotions, on the other, the feelings, we leave them at the specific moment and can only truly recover them in nostalgia.
So, we may move on from past experience, feel confident that we have learned from it to take action in the present, but the present nor the future, can never undo the emotional breadcrumb we have left in the past. That feeling, yes, that emotional state, that only nostalgia can bring back, is something that will be left in the time frame for posterity.
This is what makes our short lives on Earth beautiful. To know that we can do the same thing over and over, but we will never feel that same way about it, as the first time, nor the consecutive instances, because each passing of time is an experience that is not imprinted in the sands of time. Such is, we should make the most out of every day, for life being short is not the problem, but time, the human soul and life are battling forces that we should make the most of.
Lesson 3: We experience Time by our Choices
It is amazing, how the movie, makes us accept all accept the fact of time-travel to be as casual as boarding a plane. If you had watched it, I bet you never had the time to even question the science behind it, well, if you did, two thumbs up, you are one of the intellectually gifted, able to keep up.
Yet for those, who had just simply missed to consider how the science works, please do not worry. It may have slipped past us because, no matter how everybody else was just disrespecting time–we all see, that the time has little consequences compared to the choices we make at the time given.
To me, the movie, required astute attention because of the plot, but it harkened our attention–because, even with the inverter, the capability to move back and forth time, with nonchalant casualty–it was the actions of everyone that dictated the outcomes. It was as if, and perhaps, in reality, very well be, that time is merely the stage we are all in, by which we are tested by the decisions and choices we make.
Then, too, with these decisions, with time as a witness, our mettle is tested, by how we stand by the consequences of them. Life can be many things–beautiful, sad, happy, fulfilled. Time can be defined philosophically, scientifically or spiritually.
But our decisions and our actions, can only be right, wrong or unknown.