Music for Screens Summit 2022
“Music is just communication, beyond what you say, where you go with words,” says Hildur Guðnadóttir, who composed the score for “Tár,” which follows the downfall of superstar conductor…
“Music is just communication, beyond what you say, where you go with words,” says Hildur Guðnadóttir, who composed the score for “Tár,” which follows the downfall of superstar conductor and composer Lydia Tár.
The same can be said for moviemaking as “Tár” marks writer and director Todd Field’s first film in 16 years following his first two, “Little Children” (2006) and “In the Bedroom” (2001).
During Variety’s Music for Screens Summit, the movie’s Lydia Tár, actor Cate Blanchett, Guðnadóttir and Field, participated in a keynote conversation to discuss the orchestral and dramatic elements of the Focus Features drama. After premiering at the Venice and Telluride film festivals, the film has opened to rave reviews from critics and audiences.
It may have been 16 years since his last film, but Field has had a lifelong relationship with music. He was a trombone player and went to college on a music scholarship before becoming an actor, and then later turned to directing. He recognized the artistry and the meticulous process that Guðnadóttir brought to “Tár.”
“She was working in such a subsonic place,” Field says of his composer. “This is a score that for the most part, you may or may not be aware of. But make no mistake, is a gigantic undertaking.”
In a peculiar yet accurate way, “Tár” is the best movie musical of the year, but not the way we’ve seen stage adaptations of “Les Misérables” or “Mamma Mia!” Each actor in the film works, moves and exists in different BPMs (beats per minute). Guðnadóttir, who made Oscar history when she became the first female to win for composing the score to “Joker” (2019), wrote the film’s music to reflect Field’s meticulous design to have each character move in the rhythmic beat.
Blanchett’s Lydia Tár, a fictional composer who becomes the first woman to lead the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, was set at 120 BPMs, while the cellist disruptor Olga, played by Sophie Kauer, is at 60 BPMs. Even Lydia’s wife Sharon, played by Nina Hoss, was purposely constructed at 40 BPMs.
In addition, Lydia is writing her defining musical piece, which the film’s composer had to write as well, channeling the character’s feelings and motivations. “We really had to figure out, not just musically, but emotionally and psychologically, what is that music that she’s writing,” Guðnadóttir says.
Field’s script and directorial construction orchestrates one woman’s pursuit for perfection and power in the world, something that Blanchett found noble. “I thought about it being a meditation on power, and how it can change you,” she says. “You also have the destructive urge. When you have made something, that other people deem as being wonderful, you have the urge to destroy it, so you can begin to create again.”
There’s a deconstruction and interpretation that Field’s film says about our own personal relationships to art, whether it be music, film or any other types that exist.
Blanchett thought about silence. “You can listen to so many people’s recordings, and you prepare in silence. The connection to the spirit of the character is often unlocked through song, music, sound.”
Watch the conversation above.