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A modder has managed to get Christopher Nolan’s 2020 movie Tenet running on Nintendo‘s Game Boy Advance, albeit with some major sacrifices to picture quality.
Bob Wulff was able to use conversion software to downgrade the film until it was in a format that was low-res enough to run on the hardware, then saved it as a series of .gba files that could run on emulators.
Deciding to take things one step further, YouTuber user Wullf – who is also a graphic artist – then copied the files to actual GBA cartridges and designed bespoke label art for them, to make them look like part of the GBA Video line of entertainment cartridges that were released in North America between 2004-2007.
In order to get the 150-minute movie running on the Game Boy Advance, it had to be cut down to five 30-minute videos, each of which was heavily compressed to a 192×128 resolution and reduced to 6 frames per second (a quarter of the movie’s actual framerate).
“I got this idea when the whole meme was going around about how much Christopher Nolan really wanted you to go to the theaters to see this movie,” Wolff says in his video.
“You know, in the middle of a global pandemic he said: ‘This is a film whose image and sound really needs to be enjoyed in your theatres on the big screen.’
“So I immediately thought, yes, exactly, we have to put this on the Game Boy immediately.”
Although the assumption would be that Nolan – a director who famously believes movies should be enjoyed in cinemas – would balk at such actions, he’s actually previously stated that he doesn’t mind people watching his movies on smaller displays.
In Tom Shone’s book The Nolan Variations, the director states: “The reason I don’t [mind] is because it’s put into these big theatres as its primary form, or its initial distribution.
“And the experience trickles down, to the extent where, if you have an iPad and you’re watching a movie, you carry with you the knowledge and your understanding of what that cinematic experience would be and you extrapolate that.
“So when you watch a TV show on your iPad, your brain is in a completely different mindset.”
It’s unlikely he had a 6fps video running across five Game Boy cartridges in mind while saying this, however.