When theaters had to close down in the spring of 2020, one of the big movies that the industry had its eye on was Christopher Nolan's Tenet. The director is a strong proponent of the theatrical experience and during a period when many movies simply skipped theaters and went to VOD, Tenet held firm by planning for a theatrical release or bust. Nolan felt that seeing the movie on the big screen, or even better an IMAX screen, was the only way to really experience it. And so, somebody decided to put the movie on a Game Boy Advance, just out of pure spite.
If Christopher Nolan really would rather people only watch his movies in theaters, one can imagine how he'd feel about seeing all that hard work on the small screen of a handheld video game console, which is exactly why a YouTuber named Wulff Den did exactly that.
The Game Boy Advance was released in 2001 and was the follow-up to the original Nintendo GameBoy and its immediate successor the GameBoy Color. It was a fairly simple system and it's certainly dated by modern video game standards, but that's exactly why it was a great choice for an experiment like this. The GBA is capable of producing color video, so you can put Tenet on the system even if it is the lowest quality way to possibly do so. And somehow the audio and video is technically watchable.
The movie actually takes up five GBA cartridges, as you can only get about 30 minutes of video one one at a quality level that is still watchable. And from the video above, the video is only just watchable. It's certainly pixelated, but not so much that you can't tell what's going on. And even to get that, the GBA had to be pushed to its limit as each cartridge takes up about double the memory that a normal ROM did.
What's actually worse than the video, however, is actually the audio. Because of Tenet's unique audio mix, a lot of the sound doesn't play great through a speaker that was never designed to give you cinema quality audio. Apparently some of the quieter moments are so quiet you literally can't hear them watching the movie this way.
If there's a lesson to be taken here, I suppose it's that there's worse places to watch a movie than on an HD TV. To be fair, nobody is arguing that watching Tenet on a Game Boy Advance is just as good. It's not. And now that the movie is available on Blu-ray and on VOD, you can watch it at home in a way that, if not as good as the theater, is certainly better than some other options.
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