Christopher Nolan: The Misunderstood Essence of 'Tenet'

Exploring the Artistry Behind Christopher Nolan's Cinematic Craft.

by Nouman Rasool
Christopher Nolan: The Misunderstood Essence of 'Tenet'
© Noam Galai/Getty Images

The following essay discusses a recent insightful and frank conversation with the renowned film director Christopher Nolan concerning his cinematic style and influence. The director has been compared to Stanley Kubrick and the essay goes deep in showing these comparisons and what makes his storytelling way different and unique in film.

Christopher Nolan is a name that often pops up when people discuss innovative, thought-provoking cinema. Building on the success of "Inception" in 2010, The Guardian famously asked if Nolan was the modern-day answer to Kubrick, who last was celebrated for works such as "2001" and "The Shining." Kubrick's reputation as a cynic perfecting his art resounds in the critique of Nolan's work, often labeled as "emotionally distant.

Perhaps this perception is furthered by Nolan's British manner—a trait that he shared with the Manhattan-born Kubrick, who came to England and made it his home.

Nolan: Spielberg-esque Storyteller

But with all these comparisons, the vision of Nolan's movies is possibly closer to the mass movie-making of Steven Spielberg—a filmmaker whose work has often appealed more to the mass market.

The films of Nolan, including "The Prestige," with its tumbling, serpentine storyline, bewitch the viewer, much like the pageantry of Victorian magic. "Dunkirk" winds up with a tale of conquest and foreshadows the climactic victory of the Allies in World War II.

His next movie, "Oppenheimer," also looks like it's going to be yet another edge-of-the-seat thriller with the way it depicts the Trinity atomic test. Christopher Nolan doesn't hide the fact that he loves mainstream cinema.

He openly admires the allure of blockbuster films such as James Bond and Michael Bay's explosive action spectacles. His recent appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" showed that love, where he jokingly even played the role of a member of the "Fast & Furious" family, advising one to start with "Tokyo Drift" for novices.

The interview with Colbert also concerned the misunderstood nature of his films, and especially "Tenet," which was produced in 2020. Nolan discussed how critics and the audience sometimes don't comprehend the underlining intent in his films.

He points out that such miscomprehension is symptomatic of the failure to appreciate the central nature of his ethos in the making of films.

Christopher Nolan