Tenet Ending Explained & Film Analysis

Time ago! What is Nolan’s Tenet about? The meaning of the movie “Tenet” (2020) and its ending: a detailed explanation of the plot and the essence of the title

Country: UK, USA

Genre: fantasy, action, thriller

Year of production: 2020

Director: Christopher Nolan

Actors: John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Kenneth Branagh.

The meaning of the film “Tenet” is that a person must live according to the principle “here and now”, only the present moment is stable. Confidence in the future is an illusion, no one guarantees that events will develop according to the planned scenario.

In the film “Tenet” was played by a Russian actor, Yuri Kolokolnikov. And the main actor of the film “Tenet” is the son of Denzel Washington, John David Washington.

What is the movie about

The protagonist of Christopher Nolan’s film “Tenet” got into the ranks of a secret organization and is looking for a source of inversion technologies.

At some point, the hero realizes that the world is in serious danger from a Russian terrorist, behind whose back is a formidable and terrible force.

Tenet spy thrillerFrame from the film.

At first glance, Tenet seems like a passing Bond spy thriller. But Nolan wouldn’t be Nolan if he didn’t give weight to his work.

During the special operation, the Protagonist notices that the organizers of the fake terrorist attack, in order to make it look more believable, are planting bombs in the auditorium.

The protagonist wants to save the agent and take the plutonium: the lives of the audience are not in his competence. At the same time, he realizes that if he leaves things as they are, their blood will be on his hands. Then he goes to save the audience, which jeopardizes the entire operation. It is thanks to this choice that the bad guys manage to capture him.

Soon the Protagonist found out that his entire group died in Kyiv: saving the audience, he actually exchanged the lives of some for the lives of others. The following point is important here: without going to the auditorium, the Protagonist would have stayed with his group, and, most likely, would have died with them.

Movie idea

The idea behind the film is that time can probably be reversed. The ability to move in different directions in time opens up incredible possibilities.

If the time capsule is inverted, it will lie in the ground before we place it there. That is, we have to open it in the past. In this way, you can convey to yourself an important message from the future. You can also travel back in time and be in two places at once.

The meaning of the plot is as follows: what happened, happened. Many people have a desire to go back to a certain point in their lives and do something different.

Coming to terms with the past is so difficult that you want to fix what was. But the past cannot be changed: you need to live on and try to make the right decisions right away. This is the meaning of the film.

Conspiracy theorists are trying to find a hidden meaning here, but in fact there is none: Nolan is not only a wonderful director, but also a great mystifier: the main ideas of his films always lie on the surface.

Past, future and time loop

The time loop in the picture does not have a definite beginning and end in the usual sense. Therefore, the events must be compared in chronological order in terms of narrative.

The movie starts from the moment of organizing a terrorist act in the Kiev Opera House, in which the Protagonist avoids an inverted bullet (it is “caught” by a mysterious gunman in a mask).

In the course of the event, the hero learns that it is he who is the founder of the “Argument” (the counter-organization of the one that is trying to erase the past in the future). It also turns out that all the events experienced by the Protagonist throughout the film are the result of his own design. Ultimately, he comes to terms with the true nature of his own role in world history.

Protagonist – why doesn’t he have a name?

The protagonist is the main character of the movie. The viewer has no information about this hero. His past remains a mystery, and his character is gradually revealed over the course of the story.

There are several versions of why the Protagonist does not have a name:

  • it has a function and doesn’t need a name;
  • only after death does a participant in the “Rout” project acquire a name;
  • he was not born, but lives in a closed trajectory in time.

Most likely, without giving the hero a name, the director emphasized that his fate is not so important. The spectator should not know his story: that doesn’t matter either. The most important thing is what this character is doing here and now.

special operation in action movie ArgumentFrame from the film.

Paradox of the murdered grandfather – what is it

The characters in the film take turns solving a logical problem: what happens if they go back in time and become the murderers of their own grandfather? Will they cease to exist or not?

Judging by how the events of the film develop, the director is sure of the following: predestination exists. But, despite this, the heroes will still be forced to make a choice.

In fact, all the actions that the characters take are only needed to maintain the shape of the time loop: this is required to give the characters the opportunity to enter a new circle.

The meaning of the name

The original name “Tenet” is translated as “postulate, doctrine”. And also this word is a palindrome: from all sides it is read the same way, like the word “Argument”.

Thus, both titles (both English and Russian) are the personification of the main concept of the film: time does not always behave predictably.

D.D. Washington main characterFrame from the film.

The meaning of the ending

According to the audience, the ending of the film is very ambiguous.

The meaning of the ending of the film “Tenet” is that the hero himself is cause and effect. At the very end of the film, he saves his future stepson and his mother.

Thus, everything comes back to where it started: the cause is equal to the effect. But what happens if you swap them?

To better understand the ending, you need to remember the beginning of the picture. So, the main character, having received the object, is in mortal danger, but he is saved by a certain masked man. The viewer watches the fight with a red thread on his back: this is the same red thread that one of the characters in the film wears on his backpack at the very end.

In the Algorithm room, the Protagonist and another hero look at the closed gate. On the other side is the body of a masked man with a red lace on his backpack. At this moment, they try to kill the Protagonist again, but the “dead man” unexpectedly “comes to life”, takes a bullet and opens the gate. Thus, he gives the main character the opportunity to stop the apocalypse.

Then the path of the Protagonist lies in London: there he must solve another important matter. While completing the mission, the hero realizes that he has to go back in time and discover the secret organization “Tenet”.

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