February 3, 2023

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The full script: Todd Field makes Cate Blanchett’s career-best role

3 min read

Since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, and its subsequent U.S. release on Oct. 7, Todd Field’s “Tár” has become a rare thing: a much-hyped art-house film that demands your attention, if not your obsession. On repeated viewings, Cate Blanchett’s performance as famed conductor Lydia Tarr deepens and becomes more complex, beautiful and disturbing, as the mysterious layers of Field’s screenplay continue to unfold for the audience. now, diversity For the first time exclusively script is displayed.

inside diversityof In the Jan. 5 cover story, Field and Blanchett discuss the making of “Her,” why they were interested in the story, and how they created the character. They met over dinner a decade ago to discuss a project with Joan Didion that never ended, and Field wrote Lydia Tarr — a character she’d been thinking about for “about 10 years,” she said — just for Blanchett. Field handed his first draft to Focus Features in May 2020, writing it in 12 weeks during the early lockdown phase of Covid.

Alexey Lubomirsky for diversity

In the film, we meet Lydia during an intense, pivotal three-week period in her life. He’s the conductor of a famous, eponymous Berlin orchestra and he’s at the height of his career — and at the top of the classical music world. But with “her” revelations, the abuse Lydia committed against the young women she was supposed to counsel came to light after one of them committed suicide.

Through Lydia, Field wanted to explore how power works, and he knew he wanted her to fall from a great height when her sexual victimization was revealed. An orchestra is a symbol, says Field: “It’s a picture of a pyramid. He’s literally at the tip of that fulcrum.”

“I’ve never had such an amazing collaboration,” Blanchett says of working with Field. “When I read the script, I thought, ‘You’re not going to change an accent.’

Cate Blanchett, Todd Field, Adam Gopnik in “His”.

But before any of this can happen, Field needs a green light to make it. After years of failed projects — he hadn’t made a movie since “Little Children” in 2006 — Field met with Focus Features’ Peter Kujawski and Kiska Higgs in the fall of 2019 and outlined “his” idea. Kujawski’s first job out of college was at Good Machine, when the independent production company — later bought by Universal and developed into Focus — was filming Field’s first feature as director (and eventual Best Picture nominee), “In the Bedroom.” According to Kujawski, they wanted to work with Field on pretty much any project, and Focus executives told him to “do whatever you want.”

When Field sent out that first draft, it was “basically a shooting draft,” Kujawski said. “The decision to read the script and say, ‘We’re obviously making this,’ was basically instantaneous.”

In the film, anagrams are among the themes of “Tár” – a puzzle of if. And an anagram for “Tár” is of course “art” – which is cinema. It’s a brain-teasing Oscar-front that has wowed critics, as well as set fire to Internet sleuths.

As its writer-director, Field has been conjuring the life of Lydia Tarr for over a decade now. “I can tell you the street address where she grew up,” Field said of Lydia’s Staten Island childhood, which she omitted from her official biography. “I can tell you the proximity to Fresh Kills, the world’s largest landfill where his father worked. And I can talk about the smell of garbage coming through that window. I know more about this character than I should talk about.

So what to say goodbye, now that “Tár” is in the world?

“It’s really hard,” Field said, uncomfortably. “It’s been years.”

Read the full script for “Tár” here.

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