Chris Nolan’s ‘Tenet’ could be one big palindrome according to this fan theory

Sam Ashurst
71st Cannes Film Festival - Screening of the new print of the film "2001: A Space Odyssey" presented as part of Cinema Classic - Red Carpet Arrivals - Cannes, France, May 13, 2018 - Director Christopher Nolan poses. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

With Christopher Nolan currently filming on location for his next movie Tenetimages from the production are starting to give us clues about what the super-secretive project - starring John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki - might be about.


And one fan theory (okay, our fan theory) suggests that the movie could be a cinematic palindrome (a word, phrase, or sequence that works the same forwards and backwards).

Read more: Robert Pattinson was 'locked in a room' with Christopher Nolan

Not only is the title itself a palindrome (and the twisty title treatment TENƎꓕ certainly highlights that fact) but the idea of a film that works the same forwards and backwards is so Nolan-esque we’re surprised he hasn’t done it already.

And there’s another clue that suggests the connection - albeit one that’s a bit more oblique.

Actor Elizabeth Debicki arrives for the world premiere of Widows at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto, Canada, September 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

In the set images, lead actress Elizabeth Debicki is pictured carrying a blue book with Shakespeare’s face on the cover.

Now, in the ‘80s, a writer named Sarah Montoya perpetuated a ‘Shakespeare’s Lost Palindrome’ hoax, claiming to have discovered a previously missing page from Hamlet in a box of burnt pages that were dated from 1666.

The fake palindrome itself read, ‘Emit no evil; live on time’ - which sounds as close to a description of Nolan’s filmography as anything we can think of.

Read more: New details for Nolan’s super secret upcoming movie emerge

The final piece of the puzzle actually comes from some video footage from the set - which features one car racing forwards (which presumably contains our heroes) with every other car in the shot driving backwards (except for a couple of cars that presumably contain the camera crew).

Our prediction is that this is from the second half of the film, with the movie running forwards for the first half, before reversing for the second half (with our leads maintaining the ability to move forward).

Of course, this kind of concept would completely fit in with the kind of themes - and structural experimentation - Nolan’s been exploring in his original properties since Memento, a movie that ran backwards for the whole narrative.

Add in Inception’s location-folding action thriller elements, a little bit of Interstellar’s fourth dimensional thinking, and just a dash of Dunkirk’s multiple timelines, and this sounds like a culmination of everything the filmmaker’s been doing for the past two decades.

Oh, that’s right, 2020 will mark the 20th anniversary of Memento, so a palindrome-based film seems the best possible way to mark the occasion.

Tenet is released on 17 July 2020. It probably goes without saying that we’re pretty excited about it.