The Australian actress Cate Blanchett says that she never read anything like the script for “TAR” in her career. TAR is a new movie where the 53-year-old actress stars in the leading role as the German orchestra conductor Lydia Tar and is directed by the magic of Todd Fields.
TÁR is the story of a powerful conductor but it is, before anything else, an x-ray of power, with all that that means, from the veneration that the distinguished honor of an orchestra conductor infuses in its wake. Along the way there are questions as current as the distance that separates a creator from his work or to what extent the author's evil seeps into his work more or less. Blanchett is also passionate about Spanish Culture from movies to books or architecture and for that reason she started to take Spanish lessons online during the COVID pandemic.
Q: Is it true that you learn Spanish with Rosetta Stone during the COVID pandemic?
A: Yes, I did that. It was one of those things that I always wanted to do and my Spanish lessons happened at around 3 or 4 in the morning so I was not remembering very much and had to take them twice (laughs)
Q: What are your favorite Spanish authors?
A: I love to read but If I may, I have to say that the movies from Spain have been a big influence on me. Obviously, Almodovar and Amenabar, but all of the Spanish speaking directors as Guillermo del Toro or Alfonso Cuaron with whom I am working right now, so Spanish culture has been swelling around me for a long time. When you feel attracted to a culture with which you feel a synergy, you become interested in its narratives, in its stories. I am fascinated by Don Quixote, Pedro Paramo, and authors like Samanta Schweblin or Fernanda Melchor
Q: In the constant dilemma between art and the artist, I wonder if we should criticize the artist for his work or for his character flaws?
A: The film TAR is set in the world of classical music, a world where people believe in order to live, but it could easily move into the banking sector or architecture or engineering branch. It is about power and the dynamics of power. I think that it is not necessarily the separation of the artist and the art, but more general. He tries to separate the actions of people behaving as humans and how this separation is made by being artists (my dogs bark) and says: I love dogs, I have mine here at the hotel. I think we are in a more gray area. An actor, an artist has a very public profession so it's up to us to realize that we have positions of influence, even if it's in a small way, but this film also talks about society in general.
Q: Do you believe it is important to show the public this systemic abuse of power. We are seeing him in several movies: She Said, The Menu, The Triangle of Sadness and Tar
A: I think it is important to talk about it in detail. I have realized that there is no such thing as paradise on earth. Human beings have flaws, but that doesn't mean we don't try to achieve a better state than we are now. A more inclusive state than we have now. There are many causes, but there is not a point where a movie says that inequality is not bad. That is something indisputable and we know it. That's not a dramatic premise. It is much more interesting to say: we know that there is a systemic abuse of power, but who is involved in keeping these structures alive and it is not necessarily the “so-called” power, because power is much more fragile. That's why I love The Wizard of Oz; there was a white man behind the curtain, you just had to draw the curtain and we had to analyze it. We have to talk about it in a detailed way. Tar does not allow the public to sit down with a single analysis. If people say: she's good or she's bad, the movie doesn't operate on that level. It is a complicated film, a challenge, but I am excited, and I hope, that the public will leave the cinema with the sole idea of seeing it again because a lot of things happen within the narration and the discussion and comment among people is the most important
Q: TAR is Todd Field’s first film in 16 years and he wrote the part specifically for you. How do you feel about it
A: I am honored in every possible way as he is a wonderful director. I am very grateful that he thought about me for this role. When he sent the script I realized that I had never read anything like it. I would have to say 'TÁR', because my experience before I was even involved in the project of reading the script is I'd never read anything like it. And I think the film that Todd has made is unlike any other film that I've ever seen. Fortunately, I didn't know that he had written it for me when we were working together.
Q: Does the world of classical music interest you?
A: I was taken as a child to concerts, and I learned the piano as a girl, but I sort of gave it away. I was much more into dance. But I guess dance, like music, dispenses with language, and I’m always so grateful in a film when you don’t have to talk, which of course wasn’t the case with this script. But music is often the starting point for me in unlocking the atmosphere in which a character lives, or the spirit of a character. I’m always happy when I can find the beat or the song that speaks to the soul of the character.
Q: How does one prepare to play an orchestra conductor?
A: I asked a friend who is center stage and she told me that it's a bit like being center stage: if you don't have the perception of space, if you don't occupy it, the audience doesn't follow you, they don't know where to look or take you seriously. I have to be honest: on the one hand I was terrified like never before in my life. There was the pandemic, I had also lived through it, so the musicians had not played important works for a long time and, as if that were not enough, when I raised my arm to set the rhythm I did it a little out of time. But then I realized that they needed me and I desperately needed them, and that somehow the music would flow. I learned the gestures and I am unable to express how wonderful it is to feel how the music flows. It is an engaging experience!
By María Estévez