Every Theory to Explain Tenet’s Time “Inversion” And What it Means For The Movie

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Tenet’s Time Inversion:

Back in December, Tenet’s first trailer came out and everyone saw themselves gush at the genius that is Christopher Nolan. Once again, Nolan took cinematic skills to new heights when he came out with another masterpiece of a trailer. Known for making his movies very visually appealing as well as confusing, Nolan is a man way ahead of his time. His latest venture – the Time Travel thriller Tenet, is taking that trope even forward. The trailer gave us more questions than it answered them, chief amongst them being the concept of inversion. What is an inversion, the very central theme of the movie? How do the characters use them? Is it a force for good or will it end up destroying reality itself? Does the protagonist even know how hot the fire he is playing with is? All questions shall be answered.

Tenet’s Time Inversion
Tenet’s Time Inversion

Before we dive into the theories, we will be talking a little bit about Inversion in detail. Before knowing what the theory is, you must know what the theory is talking about right? Now before we begin, we must give you a statutory warning. You cannot actually make sense of time travel plots. The concepts that accommodate the plot are fit into the storyline in such a way that they look very streamlined but in practical terms, Hollywood science and real science are poles apart. So do not for a second believe that any movie has real-world parallels to actual science. It is all fiction. Even Nolan’s movies can sometimes bend the rules (even though the guy literally takes the help of an army of theoretical physicists to back up his movies). So let us take it all with a pinch of salt.

Tenet’s Time Inversion
Tenet’s Time Inversion

Now let’s move on to Inversion. Time Inversion is not a fictional concept. It was proposed decades ago. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Val Logsdon Fitch has even studied the concept in detail and tried to prove its existence. In fact, many renowned physicists and researchers have tried to prove Inversion. In Quantum Physics, it is said that our universe will have multiple, countless parallel universe copies where there can be a slight variation (if the universe is right next to ours within the Quantum arena) or can be completely poles apart from ours if it is at a huge distance from our universe. Each parallel universe will have different physical properties and characteristics. They can be so wildly different than the laws of physics of our universes will not work in that particular universe.

Two universes can be so different from each other that time itself works differently. Combining Quantum Physics and Theoretical Physics, Val Logsdon Fitch came up with the concept of a Mirror World – a parallel universe where time works frantically different than ours. In the Mirror World, Time would move back and forth. In short, time moves in two directions instead of just one linear fashion like in our universe. It was initially believed that the same laws of physics that govern everything in our reality will rule the Mirror World too and the fact that things move back and forth in time will have no effect on the ‘symmetry of objects and events’. Fitch and James Cronin proved that the assumption of symmetry is wrong. This means that when time moves forward as well as backward, the same events may not happen.

We will take an example to explain. Imagine you are playing golf. And you make the perfect shot – that mans a hole in one. Now according to the old assumption, if inversion happens, the golf ball should get out of the hole and place itself right in front of your club where it used to be. But Cronin and Fitch’s study proved that time reversal does not guarantee a perfect rewind. In other words, the golf ball may or may not end up at the initial position in front of you.

Nonetheless, Time and Nolan have a very fickle relationship. Nolan plays with it like a guitar and Time sings his tunes. The latest tune it sings is that of inversion or time reversal. Even the name of the movie itself is a palindrome. Tenet spelled backward is also Tenet. Is Nolan trying to tell us something here! We will know when the movie releases. Or will we ever?

Ok, we are digressing (*sigh* Nolan). Let’s get back to the topic. Now that we know a little bit about inversion, let us move to the theories that are the most eligible to explain it better.

Tenet may be advanced technology

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What if Tenet is not an organization or agency? What if it is just a piece of tech that allows any person to reverse time within a local field? What if the most elite organizations already use it every day to fight evil? And what if a terrorist organization found the-selves in possession of this new technology? Imagine the chaos that would ensure if a group of terrorists attacked a city and every time they were shot or halted in their tracks, they would just reverse time to find a new way to get around it.

This cool new technology will probably somehow allow the users to access the asymmetric mirror world and somehow use it to change the laws of physics of this world. Maybe there is a limit to how long you can use this tech. If you use it more than once or use it to make long-distance time jumps, time will break and that is what the protagonists are trying to stop.

Tenet may just be a Time Travel movie after all

What if Tenet is just one old fashioned time travel movie in new packaging? We mean we are not complaining here. It could still be awesome. But if this theory is true, then we would all be for one hell of a surprise. John David Washington, the lead hero of Tenet, once called Tenet and Inception as In-Laws. Maybe there is a connection we are missing here.

Time Inversion allows localized reversals of time in the movie. But what if Tenet is not technology or organization? What if it is a secret project that uses the mirror world technology to take a huge ju8mp back in time to change a specific event? The heroes of the movie are trying to prevent World War 3 from happening. The last time a prince got shot, we got two major world engulfing wars. Maybe the Opera Explosion we see at the end of Tenet’s trailer is the trigger that will lead to World War 3. Maybe Tenet is about using the time-reversal tech to take a leap back in time and stop it.

Tenet’s Time Inversion
Tenet’s Time Inversion

Kenneth Branagh’s character is shown to be aware of future events. Maybe he already has access to a form of technology similar to the Tenet Project and he has to fight the good guys as well as the authorities while orchestrating the Opera Explosion. Could be?

It is a Crime Thriller (In Reverse)

We have already seen another one of Nolan’s works on similar lines. Memento was the story of a guy with severe amnesia. The maximum span his short term memory had was one day. So every day he woke up, he forgot what happened the day before and hence he had to rely on his tattoos and photos from his camera to keep him-self posted. The movie also worked in a rather non-linear direction. Until the end came, nobody could join the pieces of the puzzle that was the movie’s plot together.

Tenet’s Time Inversion
Tenet’s Time Inversion

What if Tenet is the same thing but in different packaging? Maybe John David Washington and Robert Pattinson’s character are actually solving a criminal homicide case and they have already solved it in the early part of the movie. The rest of the movie is just the retelling of how they solved the case by using creative storytelling and direction to keep the audiences engaged. Maybe somehow, after solving the case, the protagonists find them-selves going back in time and following the bread crumbs in reverse order to show the audience how they did this impossible task?

Bibhu Prasad

Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just... do things
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