With Christopher Nolan‘s latest mind-bending blockbuster – Tenet – hitting cinemas 17 July 2020 (at the moment!), IMAX placed a six-minute prologue ahead of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to promote the upcoming film. Tenet, like many of Nolan’s other films, is partially shot on 70mm IMAX film, thus making the IMAX viewing experience the best with the expanded aspect ratio filling the entire screen. I had heard great things about the IMAX versions of Dunkirk, Interstellar and The Dark Knight but never seen any of them on an IMAX screen before, so I was very excited to see Tenet previewed in the format, and low and behold, it looked absolutely spectacular.
The prologue doesn’t offer too much in the way of plot or character when it comes to Tenet, but it does make for an interesting tease for the film. Essentially, it’s a six-minute action set-piece, following John David Washington’s unnamed protagonist as he embarks on a covert mission in an opera house. Quite who he’s up against, who he’s working for and exactly what is going on isn’t explained in the prologue, but the scope is spectacular and we do get a brief tease of some of the time-bending action seen in the recent teaser trailer.
What is on display here is Christopher Nolan‘s craft as a seminal film-maker of his generation. While I’ve not always been the biggest fan of his work, despite adoring Inception and The Dark Knight, I have always appreciated his skills as a director. His emphasis on practical film-making and his dedication to shooting on film are to be admired, representing a very different kind of film-making than we’re used to in a digital age where almost anything is possible with computer-generated effects.
Tenet looks absolutely incredible, the sequence we see was shot entirely on 70mm IMAX film, it fills up the entire screen / wall, making for an incredibly immersive viewing experience. There’s so much detail exposed on the huge IMAX screen and it’s difficult not to feel sucked-in, even if in this prologue, I had no idea what was actually going on story-wise. It’s clear who we’re meant to root for, and as the sequence unfolds, the mission becomes somewhat clearer but its ambiguities left me desperate to see the film in its entirety next summer.
Naturally, the IMAX sound mix is excellent, but more interestingly there’s a snippet of Oscar-winner Ludwig Göransson‘s score for the film (as Nolan’s regular composer Hans Zimmer is busy working on Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune), which is both Zimmer-y but unique in its styling, with an emphasis on building suspense as opposed to establishing any key musical themes. (Yes, in case you’re wondering, I do love my film scores, and this is no exception.) Once the prologue was over, there was a slightly different teaser trailer for the film, showing a lot of what we’ve already seen in the intriguing teaser trailer but with the full IMAX image, which looks stunning on a big screen.
This first glimpse at Tenet promises a new masterpiece from Nolan, and is certainly one to watch – and on a big IMAX screen if we can – but in the meantime, watch the teaser trailer below.
UPDATE 2020: Assuming cinemas re-open, it will be 17 July but in the meantime you can now pre-order Nolan’s book of the film, and also James Mottram’s ‘The Secrets of Tenet: Inside Christopher Nolan’s Quantum Cold War‘ now!
[EDITOR Dan: I’d recommend just watching this trailer and then no others until the film is released, go in unspoiled!]