November 24, 2020

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Review of Tenet The Complete Screenplay by Christopher Nolan

The best movie of 2020 is undoubtedly Christopher Nolan’s Tenet released late August. I gave the movie starring John David Washington and Robert Pattinson a rave review. That said, it is not an easy movie to understand, the reverse chronology of some events can cause viewers to feel confused. I know I was, but with my second and third viewing of Tenet much has cleared. I am also more than ever convinced that Nolan created a masterpiece that will long be remembered. As I wanted to know more about the movie I bought Tenet The Complete Screenplay which was listed on Amazon as Merry-Go-Round. I actually bought it assuming it was a novelization and not a screenplay. That together with The Secrets of Tenet by James Mottram has cleared up a lot.

What Tenet The Complete Screenplay can clarify

Reading a screenplay needs some practice. While the dialogue and little snippets of author guidance make it similar to a novel you are also continuously interrupted by scene headings. These describe where a scene takes place. INT LOUNGE, MEMBER’S CLUB means it will be an interior shot. In this case in the club where the Protagonist meets Michael Caine’s character. After a few dozen pages you get used to this and the 180 pages of screenplay are a delight to read. You quickly realize the screenplay is a technical document, one of a few, to aid in making a movie. While the story is described most of the design work that gave Tenet its unique look and sound is not. Making a movie such as Tenet means hitting the right notes throughout the entirety of production. The Secrets of Tenet describes the other side of that coin.

Tenet The Complete Screenplay also succeeds in clarifying the plot. Reading through the story you get the unambiguous meaning of its author, Christopher Nolan. Tenet is already a long movie and the director decided not to burden the viewer with endless exposition. That does mean some things are left too open-ended. Reading through the screenplay I learned how being shot with an inverted bullet causes radiation poisoning similar to Polonium. This becomes an issue in the movie when Kat (Elizabeth Debicki) is shot with an inverted bullet by her husband Sator. The Tallinn sequence in the movie is probably its most complicated. Upon my third viewing I realized a number of subtleties I had missed. Andrei Sator (played by Kenneth Brannagh) is inverted and moving backwards in time after he initially waited out the entire heist. The screenplay clears up a lot of what happened at the Rotas facility.

Storyboards and final remarks

But that is not all that this screenplay contains. At the end of the book there are about 90 pages of storyboards that depict the fight that takes place at the freeport in Oslo. First we see how Neil and Protagonist have two fight to inverted intruders. Then we see how as inverted intruders they have to fight themselves. Both the screenplay and the storyboards make it clear the incredible complexity of Tenet, and with its proves the genius of director Christopher Nolan. I highly recommend Tenet The Complete Screenplay. With the movie nearly out for 2 months it is time to start pondering its home release. I hear December 15th is the date. If so, I will post an update here at SciFiEmpire.net. Meanwhile rumors have started about a possible sequel. I hoped as much in my review, but the Covid-19 box office takings might hamper that prospect.

It is good the possibility is at least discussed. If like me you still have not had your fill of Tenet then you can always check out my dedicated Tenet page.