In this section of our Colossus Movie Guide for Tár, we will discuss the meaning behind the movie’s title.
- Lydia Tár/Linda Tarr – Cate Blanchett
- Sharon Goodnow – Nina Hoss
- Francesca Lentini – Noémie Merlant
- Eliot Kaplan – Mark Strong
- Olga Metkina – Sophie Kauer
- Andris Davis – Julian Glover
- Sebastian Brix – Allan Corduner
- Adam Gopnik – Adam Gopnik
- Written by – Todd Field
- Directed by – Todd Field
Why is the movie called Tár?
Of course the main character of Tár is Lydia Tár. And the film is a portrait of Lydia and her reputation. The same way she and her student Max debate about Bach, people will, in this universe, discuss Tár. So using her last name as the title gives the name a bit of a monolithic quality that befits the grandeur of her character.
There’s another layer, though. Near the end of Tár, Lydia, disgraced, heads back to her childhood home in Staten Island. There, we find out Lydia Tár is actually Linda Tarr. And she comes from a very blue collar background. That means that Lydia Tár was nothing more than a persona. A redefinition. You could even say a false presentation. This revelation renders the name a bit empty.
That brings us back to the title. Since we know that Tár is a mask, a facade, an idea rather than a person, it brings a sense of hollowness to the title. This person is not who we thought they were. The movie takes pains to ground Lydia in the canon of genius. In that way, she transcends her individual stature and becomes representative of the idea of these heroic, transcendent figures that society lauds for what they do rather than who they are. It’s a reminder of the divide between public identity and private identity.
There are dozens of recent and classical examples, but the Ellen DeGeneres scandal is one example. Ellen had a legendary talk show that preached kindness as a guiding principle. She becomes a pop culture figurehead and viewed as this sweet, caring, wonderful person. This lasted for nearly 20 years. But in 2020, it came out she was distant and mean to her staff. Exploitive of guests. And created an on-set culture that was toxic. The fallout from the publicization of all this led to the end of Ellen and a complete loss of esteem for Ellen herself.
The details are different from what we see in Tár, yet it’s the same idea of reconciling public and private, artist and art, what someone accomplishes for the world and what they do in their personal life. Can we accept one and denounce the other? Or is it all or nothing? Is “Lydia” the exception? Or the rule?
What are your thoughts?
Is there more information about the title that you think should be part of the Colossus Movie Guide for Tár? Leave a comment below and we’ll consider adding your thoughts to the guide.
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