Here’s How Christopher Nolan Crashed a Whole-Ass 747 for ‘Tenet’

     May 26, 2020


Director Christopher Nolan reveals he has once again taken aim at the flying machine community by detailing how he orchestrated the crashing of an actual plane for Tenet. Planes have an interesting place in the in the Nolan Cinematic Universe, with these winged metal birds often getting blown up or serving as the scene of dream infiltration. But, as Nolan tells it, the fate of the newest plane to cross paths with the director met an end so incredible and jaw-dropping, it will no doubt be a stunning moment onscreen.


Image via Warner Bros.

We were treated to a preview of the big plane moment in the latest Tenet trailer, will Robert Pattinson‘s character explaining to John David Washington‘s Protagonist how and why a plane will be blown up. Now, we can hear about it from Nolan, who opened up to Total Film (via GamesRadar) on how the action setpiece hinging on blowing up a 747 came together. Per the Tenet director, “I planned to do it using miniatures and set-piece builds and a combination of visual effects and all the rest,” before continuing to share that, after discovering a ton of older planes on location in Victorville, California, “we started to run the numbers… It became apparent that it would actually be more efficient to buy a real plane of the real size, and perform this sequence for real in camera, rather than build miniatures or go the CG route.”

Nolan also remarked how well what essentially amounts to an impulse purchase worked out for the movie, telling Total Film, “It’s a strange thing to talk about – a kind of impulse buying, I suppose. But we kind of did, and it worked very well, with Scott Fisher, our special-effects supervisor, and Nathan Crowley, the production designer, figuring out how to pull off this big sequence in camera. It was a very exciting thing to be a part of.”

Pattinson also weighed in on the bonkers plane crash sequence, recalling to Total Film: “You wouldn’t have thought there was any reality where you would be doing a scene where they just have an actual 747 to blow up! It’s so bold to the point of ridiculousness… I remember, as we were shooting it, I was thinking, ‘How many more times is this even going to be happening in a film at all?'”

We may not know to what end a plane will meet its fiery death in Tenet. But, after hearing both Nolan and Pattinson break it down, who cares? This sounds like fun with a capital “F.”

Tenet is set to debut in theaters soon. Get even more Christopher Nolan updates here.

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