In Tenet, Christopher Nolan has seemingly gone his most Nolan-esque, with the movie being nothing short of an entertaining, thrilling spectacle that has divided critics and audiences due to its confusing nature and emotional distance it chose to go. The film is hard to follow and can be overwhelming, both in the sensory aspect and in the plot itself, with the concept of time inversion.

Due to all of this confusion, and the breakneck speed at which the film moves, it is easy to miss a lot of what is going on in the movie. This includes little hidden details, of which there are many evident throughout the film.

Updated March 9th, 2021 by Anunay Sharma

15 The Protagonist is Rescued by Neil In the Beginning

Tenet is a movie better understood after a second viewing. While a lot of people felt clever when they noticed the red string hanging from Neil’s bag during the end climax of the movie, very few people noticed that a character who saves the protagonist in the beginning also had a red string attached to his backpack.

Knowing Christopher Nolan, this could not have been a coincidence, especially when the face of this person was covered by a mask. We all know that it was the protagonist himself who hired Neil in the future, so it is not a long shot to think that it was Neil himself who saved him the in the beginning.

14 The Symbolism Of Red & Blue

The use of blue and red is prominent throughout the film, the most apparent being in the turnstile room, when audiences finally get let in on how the machine works with the time inversion.

However, there are far more moments in the film that show this symbolism. The color of the time on the watches during the final temporal pincer movement is separated with red moving forward, blue backward, and in other details, like Kat’s dress and the armbands.


13 ‘Red’ Warner Bros logo in the beginning and ‘Blue’ Syncopy Logo at the End

Continuing the clever usage of red and blue colors, some fans had noticed during the first watch that the Warner Bros logo at the beginning of the film was red in color while the Syncopy logo during the end was blue in color.

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While the movie was starting, nobody could have picked up what the blue logo signified but when the end credits started rolling up, the red logo had a much more interesting meaning.

12 The Characters Were Oblivious to Themselves

During the chaos of the airplane crash, some people observed a very interesting detail. Both Neil and the Protagonist had two versions of themselves during that timeline. When Neil and the Protagonist were carrying Kate on a stretcher, they can also both be seen fleeing the scene in an ambulance.

But the only difference was that one version of them was inverted, going backwards in time. One thing to note here is that the version of Neil and the Protagonist which were inverted would have known where they were during the correct timeline, so technically one set of the characters knew about where they were and they were actively avoiding coming in contact with them.

11 It’s A Lot On First Viewing

This is a bit of a cheat, but the fact of the matter is audiences who see Tenet once are lucky to understand maybe 80 percent of the movie and will only spot 60 to 70 percent of the details throughout.

Critical pieces of dialogue hidden by the sound mixing, moments of practical effects on screen with people moving forward and backward in the same frame, and even crucial moments, like Neil being the one with the red string at the start and end of the movie, can get easily missed.

10 The Protagonist Was Doing Pullups in Two Places at the Same Time

When the Protagonist was first recruited for Tenet, he was taken to a windmill in the middle of the ocean where he is seen doing pullups on the stairs. Some people noticed that when the Protagonist was inverted and he was traveling on a ship, he was going through the same windmill area.

He was also doing pull-ups from the stairs of the ship, which means that he was doing pullups in two locations at the same time. There are a ton of hidden details about the main characters in Tenet which might have been missed in the first viewing.

9 The Sator Square

The Sator Square was something that got brought up a lot in the build-up to the movie by fans, obviously for the fact that TENET sits in the middle of the square.

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It is a famous five-word two-dimensional Latin palindrome containing the words SATOR, AREPO, TENET, OPERA, and ROTAS. All of these words are crucial in Tenet. Sator is the name of the villain, Andrei Sator, Arepo is the name of the Spanish art forger whose work of Goya Kat sold to Sator, Tenet is the organization, opera is the place of the opening scene, and Rotas is the security at the freeport.

8 Neil Might Actually be Kat’s Son

This is only hinted at in the movie, but it’s enough to create a fan-theory about the prospect. Some people noticed since that Robert Pattinson had dyed his hair and he was the only actor to do so in the movie. On top of this, Robert Pattinson also put on a British accent for the movie. Both of these changes could have been made to have his character bear a resemblance to Kat.

It should also be noted that Neil knew a lot about the Protagonist, which was explained later in the movie, but Neil had also commented that the Protagonist can know him better when all of this is over. He had also asked him a question regarding the Protagonist’s moral stance towards keeping a child hostage. These details are much more clear while viewing the movie for the second time.

7 Sator’s Cyanide Pill

At the start of the movie, following the opera scene, The Protagonist gets captured and desperately tries to kill himself with a cyanide pill so as not to give away any C.I.A. secrets and information to his captors.

The Protagonist succeeds in this, however, it turns out the cyanide capsules are fake, only putting the user in a coma. Later, Sator reveals his cyanide pill, which he got from the C.I.A. to trigger the dead man’s switch, so as it turns out, Sator’s was a fake.

6 Akane Kashiwazaki

At one point during the film, there is a newspaper shown on screen detailing the plane crash that had occurred at Oslo airport at the hands of Neil and The Protagonist.

On the paper, there is an article written by Akane Kashiwazaki – not only is this a character in the anime film Feel The Wind, but Kashiwazaki was the second assistant accountant for Tenet.

5 Jeremy Theobald

Christopher Nolan uses a lot of the same performers multiple times in his filmography, with the likes of Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Marion Cottilard, and more, all appearing in numerous films.

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This continued in Tenet, with Michael Caine and Kenneth Branagh, but also with Jeremy Theobald, who Nolan fans may recognize in the scene with Michael Caine, as he was the lead in Nolan’s feature debut, Following.

4 Maxwell’s Daemon

How people move in between the inverted and forward-moving timeline seems to relate directly to Maxwell’s Daemon thought experiment.

The experiment, from physicist James Charles Maxwell, suggests how the second law of thermodynamics could get violated with a door between two compartments of gas, just like how there is a door between two timelines. The organization of Tenet seems to have some idea of this also, as on the wall of Laura’s office lies a diagram of Maxwell’s Demon.

3 The Reverse Score

Frequent Nolan collaborator, Hans Zimmer, was unavailable to do this film due to his commitments on the upcoming film Dune, and so Ludwig Görranson stepped in and did a fantastic, if not loud, job at it.

To coincide with the inversion of time, there are points in the film where the score plays backward, just like how people move and speak backward, and it is impressive.


There are many meanings of Tenet throughout the movie – it is part of the Sator Square, it is the name of the organization which The Protagonist creates, and it is also a palindrome that says “ten,” forward and backward.

This is a brilliant detail, as in the climax of the movement, the temporal pincer movement performed to get the algorithm gets done in 10 minutes, with one team moving 10 minutes forward, and the other 10 minutes inverted.

1 Nolan’s Cameo

It’s a classic move for a director to show up in a subtle cameo in his own films, Alfred Hitchcock and Quentin Tarantino perhaps being two of the more well-known directors who did/do so, but Nolan avoided such a thing up until Tenet, where he has an unnoticeable cameo.

As a part of the score, Gõrranson wanted to feature manipulated breathing as a part of it, and it is done brilliantly. This breathing is done by none other than Christopher Nolan, himself.

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