Christopher Nolan Says ‘Tenet’ Viewers Frustrated by the Plot ‘Are Missing the Point’ | Video

“If you experience my film, you are getting it — I feel very strongly about that,” the “Oppenheimer” filmmaker tells Stephen Colbert

According to Christopher Nolan, if viewers don’t “get” his film “Tenet,” it’s not on him as the writer, he told “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert. He added that those viewers are “missing the point” of the movie-watching experience.

As part of an extended interview with the writer-director, Colbert posed a question about fans’ comprehension of Nolan’s films.

“Do your films have meaning or being? In other words, do I have to get your film, or can I experience your film?” Colbert asked during the chat, which he released on Wednesday.

“If you experience my film, you are getting it — I feel very strongly about that,” Nolan replied. “I think that where people encounter frustrations with my narratives in the past, I think they are slightly missing the point. It’s not a puzzle to be unpacked. It’s an experience to be had, preferably in a movie theater, but also at home. Hopefully in an unbroken period, linear period. It’s an experience to be had. That is the point of it, that’s the feeling of it.”

He added that any theories or thinkpieces that follow are extra perks from watching his movies.

“Everything else, if people are interested in talking about it or debate it more, or if ideas resonate, that’s a huge bonus,” Nolan said. “But, for me, it’s all about that emotional experience of watching the film with an audience.”

Colbert then shared that some people don’t “understand” all or portions of Nolan’s 2020 film “Tenet,” which stars John David Washington and tells the story of a secret agent who is given one word as his weapon and is tasked with stopping a potential World War III.

Nolan said watchers aren’t “meant to understand everything” in the film.

“It’s not all comprehensible. It’s a bit like asking if I know what happens to the spinning top at the end of ‘Inception,’” Nolan said, adding that he as the creator has to have his own “idea of it for it to be a valid, productive ambiguity. But the point is it’s an ambiguity. I always like to say [of the ‘Inception’ ending], the point is that the character doesn’t care whether it falls or not.”

Afterward, Colbert presented some fan theories about “Tenet” — but Nolan said he no longer participates in theories after his brother instructed him not to with their film “Memento.” At the time, Nolan was premiering the movie at the Venice Film Festival and participated in a press conference after its showing.

“I made the mistake many years ago. Luckily, it was before the prevalence of social media,” Nolan said. “They asked about my interpretation of the ending, and I said, ‘The important thing is it’s ambiguous, it’s unknowable, but what I think is blah, blah, blah.’ My brother Jonah took me aside after that and said, ‘You can never do that again.’”

He continued, saying his brother slammed him even though he stated to those watching that the ending was unclear: “He said, ‘No one listened to that. They want an answer so if you’re looking for ambiguity, you’re looking for open possibilities, you have to keep your mouth shut.’”

By the end of the conversation, Nolan said he has no regrets about loving the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, that he is “amazed” Colbert hasn’t seen any of 10-movie saga and agreed to have a “Fast and the Furious” marathon watch with Colbert.


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