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Chris Nolan’s Tenet: 5 mind-melting theories explored

Just what the hell is Nolan's latest movie about? We do some digging.

Chris Nolan’s Tenet: 5 mind-melting theories explored

A new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has been revealed which means that we should have ALL the answers to what the movie is about. But of course we haven’t.

This is Nolan we are talking about, a filmmaker who loves to tease his movies before they are revealed, hiding key bits of information and letting the wonderful wide web speculate on the tiniest details.
Of course ShortList wouldn’t stoop so low to do this - pah, we have better things to do with our time than pour over every detail of the trailer to extract any tidbits of information we can…
Who are we kidding - we are here to fan the flames of fandom and get down and dirty with the rest of the tenacious Tenet conspiracy theorists.
Here’s our five mind-blowing theories on just what the hell Tenet is about.
Tenet will be released in cinemas as soon as we are all allowed out of isolation and lockdown. And we can’t bloody wait…

1. It's a sequel to Inception

Chris Nolan’s Tenet: 5 mind-melting theories explored
This is a theory that has been hanging around for a while now. While it is unlikely that Tenet is a straight sequel to Inception - there are many speculating that it could live within the same universe. The plot, from what we can gather, is all about the manipulation of time and Inception’s time heist was exactly this, but set both in the real world and a dream state. A number of Redditor’s have posited that the big secret in Tenet (what will cause World War III) might have links to the technology used to carry out their heists.
Probability: 2 out of 5 (this is more fan hope that reality)

2. It's set among a Quantum Cold War

Chris Nolan’s Tenet: 5 mind-melting theories explored

Now, this is something that isn’t specifically said in the trailer but a new book coming out called The Secrets of Tenet states exactly this on the cover, that Tenet is a Quantum Cold War thriller. Quite what that means, we have no idea but the Quantum Realm in Avengers was used to great effect to travel through time. And the trailer hints at something menacing that needs to be stopped to halt World War III.

Probability: 5 out of 5 (it’s literally written on the cover of the official book)

3. It's not about time travel but the travel of time

Chris Nolan’s Tenet: 5 mind-melting theories explored

Ooh, see what we did there with that fancy heading? Robert Pattinson, one of the stars of the movie and who wears a very fetching Chris Nolan-esque scarf in the trailer, has already stated that the movie isn’t about time travel - so that puts that theory to bed. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t about the travel of time. We see this in the trailer where main protagonist John David Washington is confronted with things that haven’t yet happened - there’s a whole host of time manipulation going on which is making the world scratch its head.

4. It’s basically the Red Dwarf episode Backwards and they’re all dead, Dave

Chris Nolan’s Tenet: 5 mind-melting theories explored

The first episode of Red Dwarf sees Dave Lister wake from stasis to find all his crew has died. In the trailer for Tenet, John David Washington is “welcomed to the after life”. Taken at face value this could well mean that he is dead and the events of the movie are happening in some weird alternative timeline. In this timeline, it looks as if time goes backwards - we see him un-fall from a building, a car un-crash if front of his eyes. Tenet is a palindrome and can be read from back to front and the other way around. So, Tenet is essentially the Red Dwarf episode backwards and takes place in the wonderful land of Nodnol.
Probability: 3 out of 5 (take away the Red Dwarf bits and we do actually think this is the plot to the movie)

5. It’s all set in Fortnite

Chris Nolan’s Tenet: 5 mind-melting theories explored

Chris Nolan is a gamer now, didn’t you hear? The trailer for Tenet originally premiered in ridiculously successful game Fortnite and he’s revealed that he will show off one of his movies in the game, too, at some point. While you may think this is some sort of marketing ploy, according to the creative director of Epic Games it was all Chris Nolan’s idea as he wanted the trailer to premiere in something that feels like a bit, well, cinema. We reckon, he’ll go eve further and we’ll find out that Tenet is just another chapter in the Fortnite saga.
Probability: 1 out of 5 (but anything is possible in the world of lockdown right now.