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  • Andres Benatar

Will Christopher Nolan’s Upcoming WW2 Film Be Linked to Tenet?

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain.”

Ever since the 2008 release of The Dark Knight, the name Christopher Nolan has served as a beacon of cinematic sophistication that makes the release of each of his films more than simply another addition to his filmography of acclaim. It’s a sensation all audiences experience the moment one of his many enigmatic film teasers presents a scene that is both cryptic, yet quizzically invigorating in the simple but intellectually enticing demonstration they all carry. Last year's TENET was no exception.

Saying 2020 was a hard year seems like a bit of an understatement. A lot happened, and make no mistake, it happened.

It seems rather fitting in terms of the chaotic resemblance it shares with the opening scene of Christopher Nolan’s TENET where the first line comes from John David Washington’s nameless protagonist, The Protagonist (go figure) utters, “We live in a twilight world.” Although this line is used as a type of spy-based code, it pretty much could tie into the many controversial aspects of the year 2020.

This enigmatic lens in relation to last year could certainly be compared to the chaotic and misinformation aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic, the numerous riots in the wake of George Floyd’s death, or the equally chaotic/politically charged nature of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Regardless of where the spectrum of focus lies, the quote “We Live In A Twilight World” is a perfect summation of how Nolan views the current state of the world. This morally ambiguous lens of the world has often been present in each of his films. It’s more common for a storyteller to have the focus of his narrative center and even favor the perspective of a protagonist who although challenged, ultimately ends up being in the right.

In the case of any Christopher Nolan film, no protagonist is ever used as a presentation for answers as opposed to the mere questions each of his films leaves audiences within the wake of their morally questionable acts. This is no exception with the ambiguous nature of TENET’s puzzle-like storytelling, which oftentimes operates more like an equation we can enjoy revisiting despite the frustration inherent within its linear and nonlinear elements.

Now that a year has passed since TENET was released, new announcements have already been made for Christopher Nolan’s upcoming film, which is rumored to center on John Robert Oppenheimer and the dropping of the atomic bomb in WW2. For anyone who has seen interviews of Oppenheimer’s reaction to the use of a weapon, he dreaded making, despair and moral conflict are what perfectly describes that state of mind of a man who came to realize the horrors both his genius and well-intentioned talent brought upon the world.

The atom bomb is the perfect subject for a storyteller like Nolan to tackle, and one TENET teased. One of the more subtle scenes of the film has Dimple Kapadia’s arms dealer Priya inform the protagonist how the true unrealized horrors of the Manhattan project were bad enough.

The atomic bomb was powerful enough to cause a chain reaction that would potentially engulf the entire world. Luckily, despite the horrors an atom bomb still carries, the result was a stroke of luck. The mere mention of such an idea only makes Nolan’s tease that more exciting as to what can be done in the future.

Prior to the announcement of Nolan’s Oppenheimer-centered story, rumors of TENET having a potential sequel were in discussion as a mere afterthought, and one his star John David Washington teased. But when it comes to Christopher Nolan and sequels, certitude is something that is always up in the air. After all, this was the same filmmaker who teased the joker in the conclusion of Batman Begins, long before there were plans to make a sequel.

If there is a story to be told, then Nolan will certainly invest the time in crafting it. As to whether all his stories are all linked beyond being created by the same person, that’s a question TENET would probably enjoy having fun with in addition to involving time travel, time inversion, and even possible multiverses. When it comes to the Nolanverse, then it’s not too crazy to assume that the future may hold a film where Inception’s Cobb might one day be sitting in Florence having a Bernie Franker alongside The Dark Knight Trilogy’s Bruce Wayne.

As repeatedly uttered by TENET’s Neil (One of Nolan’s many lookalike characters), “What’s happened has happened.”

Andres Benatar is resident film expert. You can hear him on the 'Cinema 237' podcast - A podcast for cinephiles.

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