Nolan Says 'Tenet' Was His Most Difficult Movie to Edit

Jen Lame was given the task of a lifetime: editing Nolan's Tenet

Chris Nolan is a creature of habit. He's used the same editor on most of his films, Lee Smith. But since editing Nolan films gets you kind of famous, Smith takes other work between Nolan, including 1917, which made him unavailable when it came time to cut Tenet

So, Nolan was left in a weird placehe needed an editor to handle a task that was going to be...rather difficult. 

Nolan looked at many of the best movies over the last few years a found a common thread: Jennifer Lame. She's edited Marriage Story, Manchester by the Sea, and Hereditary (among many others). 

He met with her and described the job ahead of them in terrifying terms. In an interview with ICG Magazine (via IndieWire), Nolan laid out his challenge to her. 

Nolan said, "Working for the first time with editor Jen Lame was a real pleasure. I joked with her when she first came on that this might be the hardest movie any editor has ever had to cut—and I’m not sure she would dispute that right now [laughs]. Working out all the aspects of portraying time running in different directions meant going beyond what was down on the page, as the execution lay with a successful translation of the visual."

Oh...the hardest movie Chris Nolan has ever assembled...okay...

I cannot imagine hearing that task, but Lame dove into the project. She did find it to be rather intimidating. There was cross-cutting, time-inverting, action set pieces...the whole thing was huge. But Chris Nolan gave her sage advice: "The films I have worked on up until this have been more character-driven, so I enjoyed getting more intimate scenes to cut. I found myself spending more time on the quieter moments and perhaps slightly intimidated by the action. To get over that, I began to think of action as also driving the story forward, explaining, and fleshing out the character’s journey. When Chris saw I was intimidated by the action sequences, he reiterated this point; the story was always the driving force."

My personal favorite Nolan movies are the ones in which he focuses more on character, so this makes me all the more excited to see Tenet. Knowing an editor with a ton of experience in small moments gets to do a movie this big also makes me excited because there might be some nuance or an indie vibe that can take Nolan's quiet scenes to the next level.

I guess we will only find out if Tenet hits theaters this year! 

Let us know what you think in the comments!      

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Aaaah, marketing has started for the most overrated director in Hollywood...and his flick. Yeah, the toughest movie ever to be edited. For sure!

August 13, 2020 at 9:23AM, Edited August 13, 9:23AM


Well, if she wanted another 6 months with the edit just to make sure it's perfect I guess she can have them now

August 13, 2020 at 9:27AM

geoff webb

Chris Nolan is a creature of habit?

August 14, 2020 at 12:47AM

Xây Dựng Honghala
Honghala | Công ty xây dựng nhà ở uy tín số 1 tại Hà Nội

Hi, I'm from the future. Just stopping in on my way to the past to say that I found the editing in Tenet to be bad enough to Google it and find this story. The whole movie felt relentless and devoid of quiet moments for character development, so it was interesting to read what you said about Jen Lame's normal style.

I'd lay a lot of it at Nolan's door, but there's a dinner scene near the beginning between The Protangonist and the leading lady which COULD have been a moment of quiet before the storm. Sadly, the editing was so choppy it left me dizzy, constantly cutting between the two actors seemingly at random, irrespective of who was talking or where they were in the dialogue. I would love to see some behind the scenes of who thought this was a good idea, but it reminded me of that dinner scene near the beginning of Bohemian Rhapsody. Was she just making the most of bad directing (as the editor was in Bohemian Rhapsody)? I mean this is Nolan, so it shouldn't be that, but she's supposed to be a good editor! It's all very confusing. Much like the film as a whole, I guess.

September 16, 2020 at 1:43AM

You voted '+1'.