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Tenet: What The Title Implies For Nolan’s Sci-Fi Movie

The title of Christopher Nolan’s Tenet implies a belief system at the film’s core, which could be key to understanding its time manipulation aspects.

Tenet, Christopher Nolan's upcoming sci-fi blockbuster, has been shrouded in secrecy since it was announced, but its title provides some clues to what audiences can expect to see when it's released later this year.

Tenet began filming in May 2019 under the working title Merry Go Round, with a large budget and a cast that includes Robert Pattinson, John David Washington, and Elizabeth Debicki. Although the actual script has been kept under strict lock and key since production began, the latest trailer reveals the story to be about a group of secret agents tasked with preventing World War III. However, there's also something trippy at play here: a time-bending element that is likely related to the movie's title.

Related: Tenet Movie Trailer 2 Breakdown: 14 Plot Reveals And Hidden Details

It's no secret Christopher Nolan loves to play with time, as he does in his films Inception and Interstellar. Some fans have even theorized that Tenet may be a sort of sequel to 2010s Inception. From the trailer, it's clear that Tenet is about an agency working to prevent world catastrophe, and they "tenet", which seems to be a way to manipulate time or one's place in it. It may be a way to reverse time in order to prevent certain things from happening. However, it's also implied that "tenet" is more than that. It's not time travel, but perhaps something deeper: a belief system that allows the agents to change the course of events.

A tenet is a principle or belief, typically an important one around which a religious doctrine or philosophy is based. At one point in the trailer to Tenet, Washington's character is told not to try to understand it, but to feel it. It seems in order to be able to reverse time or, perhaps, to travel ahead of it, there is a belief system involved. Perhaps, the "tenet" of the movie is the understanding that time does not flow chronologically as it is perceived, allowing Washington and the other agents to control their place in the flow of events. Even the word "tenet" is a palindrome, which plays with the concept of two sides to everything - even the flow of time.

Tenet's trailer also shows Washington's character going through a test of sorts to be initiated into the government agency. In it, he appears to sacrifice his life rather than give up an important secret. When he wakes up, he is told "welcome to the afterlife." It's possible that Washington really has "died" in some way here, allowing him to ability to exist to either side of an event, either before it happens or after. He is then told that the word "tenet" will open doors. Later, he arrives at a scene that appears to be the aftermath of a gunfight, but he understands that the event hasn't happened yet. Audiences will likely have to wait to discover the tenet of Tenet until after Christopher Nolan's movie is released later in 2020.

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