A lot has been said about Christopher Nolan’s passion for the magic of the shared cinema experience, but the director of 2020’s biggest blockbuster, TENET, doesn’t just talk the talk; from first draft to final cut he painstakingly plans and crafts every element of his films with cutting-edge cinema technology woven into the process. 

What does that mean for TENET?

This isn’t ‘just’ an exhilarating spy thriller with compelling characters and stratospherically high-stakes action, it’s a film that’s been engineered from day one to deliver a superlative viewing experience on the most state-of-the-art cinema screens around. So join us as we look at the film's 5 best scenes and how the TENET IMAX experience at ODEON immerses and dazzles you just as Nolan intended.


The Kiev Opera House assault

TENET sets out its stall immediately with an action sequence on an epic scale – a siege at a brutalist Kiev opera house packed with theatregoers – that introduces both John David Washington’s Protagonist and the concept of Time Inversion that sits at the heart of the film, reaching simultaneously for its end and beginning. 

Aside from Christopher Nolan’s characteristically masterful direction of the action – as a heavily armed assault team storms the opera house to secure a compromised spy – what makes the siege so spectacular is its backdrop. The opera house may not actually be in Kiev but it’s no flimsy soundstage either. Rather, it’s the Linnahall – a venue built for the 1980 Moscow Olympics in Tallinn, Estonia (part of the Soviet Union back then).

How IMAX AT ODEON makes it a next-level experience

For Nolan, the viewer’s immersion in TENET is everything. It’s why he and his Director of Photography, Hoye Van Hoytema shot this and many of the film’s most spectacular sequences using state-of-the-art, large-format IMAX film cameras. As Nolan puts it:

“I’ve been working with the IMAX format for years now. It has this extraordinary power in terms of how deeply it can take the audience into the story. With a story as entertaining and fun as this one tries to be, we really felt that we wanted to wrap the movie around the audience and take them on a ride.”

The highway heist

A highway ambush on an armoured convoy would make a phenomenal action sequence in any film, but in Christopher Nolan’s hands it becomes truly mind-blowing. His belief in the immersive power of practical stunts lead to the production persuading the people of Tallinn to let them ‘borrow’ an eight-kilometre stretch of six-lane highway in the centre of the city for two weeks of filming.

Then there was the visually jaw-dropping fact that, thanks to the film’s trippy Time Inversion, the entire sequence occurs with some vehicles running forwards through time, while others interact with them running backwards through time. And, because Nolan insists on doing everything in-camera where possible, there’s even less movie trickery at play during the heist than you could possibly imagine.

How IMAX AT ODEON makes it a next-level experience

Did you know that sequences shot using IMAX cameras – and for TENET that’s the majority of them – visually expand to fill IMAX’s gigantic screen area. That not only means you’re truly immersed in the action, but that you experience every last detail Nolan wanted his audience to see.

Of Nolan’s vision, Kenneth Branagh (Andrei Sator) says:

“This is a man who is about the telling of the story through cinema. I can almost feel in this project a re-affirmation, a declaration, of how exciting it can be to be in a darkened room, with massive images, for a story that that kind of treatment supports and deserves.”

The F50 catamaran race

The catamaran race between Andrei Sator (Kenneth Branagh) and The Protagonist doesn’t just look fast, it really was. You can thank the advanced F50 foiling catamarans borrowed for the sequence. Rising up on their hydrofoils, these state-of-the-art catamarans can reach speeds of up to 50 knots (or 60mph) and you can bet Nolan and DP Hoytema were keen to push them to their limit.

“Those things are intense,” says John David Washington. “They were just high flying, and I was thinking, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But I couldn’t be timid about it, especially seeing Chris and Hoyte strapped to the middle, filming us – they were just in heaven, loving every minute. It was so much fun. Smooth sailing!”

How IMAX AT ODEON makes it a next-level experience

Nolan planned TENET with IMAX at its heart. Not only did he film with IMAX cameras – some of the highest-resolution cameras anywhere, whenever possible – but he also refined the film throughout post-production in an IMAX theatre to further optimise how audiences would experience TENET in IMAX.

And, if you love those aerial shots of the race, they’re not purely an artistic choice: with no other vessel capable of keeping up with the F50s at top speed, a chopper was the only option when it came to capturing the sequence’s tracking shots!

The 747 terminal crash

TENET’s Boeing 747 crash at Oslo airport is possibly the most audacious and sensational action sequence in the history of film that owes its existence to… prudent accounting. When planning the stunt, Christopher Nolan figured that, budget-wise, he’d have to use miniatures for the explosive exterior shots then build a full-size set for interiors.

But then the production’s bean counters ran the numbers and concluded – to Nolan’s delight, we assume – that it’d actually be cheaper to buy, modify and crash a real (second-hand) Jumbo Jet into a real airport building.

How IMAX AT ODEON makes it a next-level experience

With so much going on in the Oslo 747 sequence – both forwards and backwards in time – it takes the largest, high-resolution screen imaginable to do it justice. The unique aspect ratio of the IMAX screen means you’ll see details standard cinema screens simply can’t contain.

The Stalsk-12 assault

Creating TENET’s climactic assault on the fictional Siberian city of Stalsk-12 was such a feat of logistics that it may well have been ‘simpler’ to wage a real war. In a defunct Californian iron-ore mine and its adjacent ghost town, existing buildings were adapted to become Stalsk-12’s apartment blocks, and new buildings were constructed from scratch. The result was the largest outdoor set in Cinema history.

Add to this, 100s of ex-military extras kitted out for war and the resulting sequence is little short of astounding: a benchmark-shattering big-screen battle quite unlike anything you’ve seen on a cinema screen before.

How IMAX AT ODEON makes it a next-level experience

The sheer scale and detail evident in the Stalsk-12 battle demands to be seen on the biggest, most detailed cinema screen possible. IMAX’s enveloping screen delivers that, ensuring you see every fragment of shattering concrete and, thanks to superlative digital sound, feel the whizz and thwip of every last shot zipping past your head.

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