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Christopher Nolan crashed a Boeing 747 jet into an airport hanger during filming for Tenet

Tom Wood

| Last updated 

Christopher Nolan crashed a Boeing 747 jet into an airport hanger during filming for Tenet

If you’ve ever watched one of Christopher Nolan’s films, you’ll know that he likes to do things big, and Tenet was no different. You can see exactly how they pulled the incredible stunt we're going to discuss by watching the video below.


Nolan is definitely one of the most sought after directors in the game, having achieved great success with films like The Dark Knight and Inception, but also with less big-budget films like Memento and The Prestige.

OK, The Prestige was quite a big film – it had Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and even David Bowie in it – but it’s not one of his best known efforts. However, we digress.


When he was making Tenet, Nolan made the bold decision to actually film one of the biggest stunts in real life, rather than resorting to tricks of the camera or special effects.

That stunt involved a genuine jumbo jet plane.

If you’ve seen the film, which came out in 2020, you’ll know that at one stage a Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes into an aircraft hangar.

Yes, that really did happen.

See? They really did it. Credit: Warner Bros.
See? They really did it. Credit: Warner Bros.

They realised at some point that doing it in post-production or scaling everything down to make a model wasn’t going to happen easily or on the cheap.

However, one thing that they could do was to get a jet aeroplane for a more reasonable price.

Speaking about his decision to Total Film, Nolan said: “I planned to do it using miniatures and set-piece builds and a combination of visual effects and all the rest,


“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.”

They discovered that there was a place in California that just happened to have loads of jets kicking around, so they bought one and crashed it.

Tenet featured a stellar cast and some huge stunts. Credit: Warner Bros.
Tenet featured a stellar cast and some huge stunts. Credit: Warner Bros.

Nolan went on: “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.”

Well yeah, it’s not every day you get to buy a passenger aircraft with the sole intention of crashing it into a building whilst filming it for an action movie.


The day you’re tired of that, it’s probably time to have a look for another job.

Robert Pattinson – who starred in the film – also remembered this particular detail.

Christopher Nolan loves a good stunt. Credit: Album/Alamy Stock Photo
Christopher Nolan loves a good stunt. Credit: Album/Alamy Stock Photo

He said: “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?’”

Probably not many.

What’s more, Nolan isn’t done here.

He’s apparently managed to recreate the world’s first ever nuclear explosion without using CGI as well.

Describing the ‘huge challenge’ he said: “I think recreating the Trinity test [the first nuclear weapon detonation, in New Mexico] without the use of computer graphics was a huge challenge to take on,

“Andrew Jackson — my visual effects supervisor, I got him on board early on — was looking at how we could do a lot of the visual elements of the film practically, from representing quantum dynamics and quantum physics to the Trinity test itself, to recreating, with my team, Los Alamos up on a mesa in New Mexico in extraordinary weather, a lot of which was needed for the film, in terms of the very harsh conditions out there — there were huge practical challenges.”

There always seems to be where Nolan is concerned, but it usually turns into a pretty good film at the end, which is – after all – what it is all about.

Featured Image Credit: A Fly Guy's Cabin Crew Lounge/Facebook

Topics: TV and Film, Celebrity, Robert Pattinson, Weird

Tom Wood
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