Nolan’s “Guide” for Tenet

This article deals with the film “Once Upon a Time in the West” and how it inspired Tenet director Christopher Nolan to shape a highly complex story.

VFX supervisor Scott Fisher has teamed  up yet again with Nolan and watched a bunch of world war 2 films to form a benchmark that he had to use in the post-production. However, reportedly it was the 1968 epic film “One Upon a Time in the West” by Sergio Leone which was the pneuma behind Tenet.

Christopher Nolan went out of his own way for his upcoming film. He usually makes his entire cast watch the list of films that are an inspiration for the project that he wishes to create. However, with Tenet, he decided against it because he wanted to make an original spy film that has stemmed from his imagination and memories, not from someone else’s work. This allowed “Once Upon a Time in the West” to impose itself on the director’s mind and ultimately become an unexpected source of inspiration.


Nolan grew up watching Hollywood blockbusters. The spy genre is one of the genres apart from the suspense that he enjoys watching as well as creating.

“Spy Films is in my bones.” He had once said.

What he really wanted was not to rehash the genre but make something that pays tribute to the genre.

In the interview with the Total Time Magazine, Nolan admits that Leone’s work not only instilled energy inside him but that Leone himself proved to be a “mentor” for him.

“I am not sure he watched a lot of westerns while he was making it,” Nolan said. Nolan expounds his opinion about the best work from one of the most influential directors of all time by saying that Leone made it from his own love for films. He then goes on to say that the love for a genre grows stronger if you live with it for years and years. What impressed Nolan the most was his passion that shaped his impression for “Once Upon a Time in the West.”

He wanted to use a similar approach for Tenet. He told his crew to use the film as an inspiration but in “a unique way”. He wanted the film “Once Upon a Time in the West” to get hold of everyone’s imagination in the team not to dictate the scenes of “Tenet” but instead to ignite the spark of creativity that would help them create the film.

However, one guy from the VFX team, the supervisor himself, Scott Fisher had to through a list of movies that Nolan had recommended to him. Nearly all of the film were related to World War 2; it is imperative to note that the films did not dictate the structure of the narrative, but instead, they were used to instill a sense of reality in his mind.

It was essential to have that sense of reality because as you can see in the trailer and in the film that objects are moving backwards in time. What Nolan aspired to do with it was relatively straight-forward; the objects that would move backwards in time must look real.

Fisher illustrated a simple concept by giving a real-life example, we as people live in a 3-dimensional world. We see 3-dimensional objects so our eyes and brain get used to the notion of how a real object should look like. When we experience objects in a film, our mind can quickly register whether a certain object is real or fake. So, to enhance the effect of the story, it is essential to recreate real-life objects in a film.

The motion of objects in time inversion, however, needed a set of skills from Fisher rather than an inspiration. Fisher and the entire VFX team do deserve some accolades because, by the looks of it, they did a very fantastic job.

Tenet will be the 10th film by the modern filmmaker Christopher Nolan who also has been regarded as one of the most influential directors of all time. Nolan does have a knack of creating high concept worlds to get blockbuster output.

The film has a very talented ensemble cast of Robert Pattinson, John David Washington, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh.

Tenet has a nationwide (except for cities like New York and Los Angeles) release date set for September the 3rd ,2020.

Source:-    Nolan’s “Guide” for Tenet

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