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The big screen experience is something that film directors, when possible, love to preserve. However, there is an unavoidable eventuality that a movie like Tenet will be available on so many personal platforms, the artist can’t control how the audience ingests it. Thankfully, despite the consistent perception that director Christopher Nolan isn’t a fan of viewers watching his movies on their phones, the man himself has come out and said that he’s actually ok with that.
This tidbit of information comes from a book by author Tom Shone titled The Nolan Variations that was recently released (via Indiewire). When asked whether he’d be bothered by people seeing something like Dunkirk on their personal devices, Christopher Nolan stated he was perfectly fine that this is a common occurrence. However, Nolan caveated that approval in the following statement:
No, I don’t. But the reason I don’t is because it’s put into these big theaters as its primary form, or its initial distribution. And the experience trickles down, to the extent where, if you have an iPad and you’re watching a movie, you carry with you the knowledge and your understanding of what that cinematic experience would be and you extrapolate that. So when you watch a TV show on your iPad, your brain is in a completely different mindset.
What it sounds like the Tenet writer/director is saying is that it’s ok to watch his various mind-bending works on your iPad, mostly because it originated as a theatrical experience. With the audience fully informed that Dunkirk was a movie produced and scaled for the big screen, the viewer basically understands what it would be like to have seen that product as it was intended.
Knowing that Christopher Nolan is alright with movies being seen on smaller, non-theatrical screens is something that should take the edge off of the heat he’s faced throughout this year. With Tenet being preserved as a theatrical experience through various delays, there was a narrative building that Nolan was the one pushing that wagon, and rather forcefully. In the wake of that experiment to revive cinemas, and the results that came from it, it’s a good time for more of the Dark Knight Trilogy director’s thoughts on the matter to be made known. And considering how other auteurs, like David Lynch, have been a bit prickly about cinema and movies in general, this isn’t a stance that’ll be heating up Twitter any time soon.
So if you’re planning to see Tenet on your personal screens or devices, know that it’s not seen as a slight to Christopher Nolan. If anything, it sounds like he feels that the theatrical experience is, indeed, a state of mind. And you’ll get to do just that when the film releases to home video, both on physical and digital formats, on December 15. And if you'd like to read The Nolan Variations, it's currently available for purchase wherever fine books are sold.