Tár: Death of the Sun God
One fan's commentary on the film.
In celebration of the Oscars and my favorite film of the year, I’ve recorded a running commentary of Tár. The best way to experience this is to start the movie right when you click play on the podcast, and it will feel like we were hanging out on the couch together… and I’m talking the whole time.
(00:00:04) - Hello, and welcome to a very special episode of the Barrcast. I entitled this episode, TAR, Death of the Sun God, and we will be watching together the Oscar-nominated picture, TAR, commenting on it. Treat this episode like you're having a friend over and you're watching the movie. And if you haven't started the movie already, start it now, I'll synchronize with you momentarily. But I've started it, and I am at this moment 35 seconds in. And we start with this mysterious livestream or text thread of what's happening.
(00:00:53) - We don't quite know who this character is. Almost by the end of the film we'll know who it is. And in some ways TAR is a horror film or a mystery or a whodunit. For me that's one of the least compelling ways to experience this film, but if that's your preferred way, more power to you. I do think that there are more fruitful ways to experience the film, and Todd Field shows us one right here. TAR is thrusting the microphone in front of a group of people speaking their language. We don't know who they are yet.
(00:01:50) - And in comes this high-pitched female voice at the center of the first credit screen to the Shipibo-Konibo people. And so that's our grounding for this film and for this interpretation. The Shipibo people are most known, at least in the US, for ayahuasca ceremonies. And what we're listening to is an ikaro, a song sung in ayahuasca ceremonies. And so accompanying these credits is something like a spiritual introduction, a bridge into another way of being. And so we'll take the invitation and spend a couple minutes transitioning into that way of being.
(00:04:55) - You know, it's coming up for me on the second time of experiencing the opening credits is the tremendous breadth of human experience. And now we cut to Tar who's sort of doing this highly neurotic, maybe sort of pregame ritual, but is also sort of haunted by something, chasing demons away from her. And you know, the film doesn't start with the Ikaro. The film starts with Tar thrusting the microphone in front of the Shipibo people's face and kind of like singing to the mic as if it weren't there. And so up front we have sort of these dual themes of source or God or inspiration as well as power extraction.
(00:05:49) - And that will continue to explore that as the film goes on. So the experience I had in the theater was one of, you know, some discomfort with the credits scene. It just went on and on and I wasn't quite sure how to experience it. And then we move into this endless introduction. That is just a total send-up of kind of liberal intellectual culture. And so my experience watching this film in theaters was just really uncomfortable to start with. But I was also in, I mean, I recognize the Ikaro and and was kind of struck by the unorthodox introduction.
(00:06:49) - So I was also in, I was uncomfortable and I was in. And where are you finding me now? I'm at home in Brooklyn. It's 11:12. That's 11 12 p.m. So it's late. I've had a few drinks with my dear friend Matt. Hi Matt, if you're listening and have a drink in front of me, so, you know, we'll see how the night proceeds. This film is so gorgeous and so on point. So now we see the redhead, the unnamed redhead, or I guess later we'll find out that's Krista.
(00:08:05) - And in comes Francesca, sort of miming the words in the introduction, clearly telling us that Francesca has written them herself. So we're dealing with someone with a lot of ego. I didn't mention this, but if you saw Tare drink the water at the beginning that kind of evokes a memory of taking the medicine in Ayahuasca, and we'll see some vomiting later in the film as well, which is another sort of hallmark of an experience in Ayahuasca.
(00:08:56) - Yeah, I mean tar on tar is why we go fully into parody as if we weren't there already and we just get to this stuffy, there's the Voss water, that kind of awkward laughter. We're in peak left-wing intellectual culture. And I mean, I do think a lot of, I mean, there was an article in the New Yorker that completely missed the point of this film, and I do think that some people were, you know, sort of triggered essentially by these earliest scenes. And there's something about this scene that is just so uncomfortable.
(00:09:41) - The conversation is so contrived, but it's not bad. I mean, Lydia says some kind of really thoughtful things here and we'll point to them, but at the same time, there's just a mannered forced quality here that's very difficult to be with.
(00:10:02) - And of course, Tar does read reviews, as we'll see when she clips out every review. It's interesting because the first time I watched this, I found it to be sort of patter, although there was one scene that I kind of blanked on, and whenever I blank I think to myself, okay, there must have been something really important there that whenever I blank out I tend to think that there was something that I wasn't prepared to listen to, and I'll find that moment in a moment. Did I say I'll find that moment in a moment? Wow. Now here we go, translation.
(00:11:31) - And this is what Tar says. Time is the thing. You do not start without me. You cannot start without me. And I mean, this is a whole detour, but there's something powerful about what Tar is saying here. Her power resides in her control over time. And as I've sort of hinted at the title of this video essay, and this struck me like halfway through my first viewing of the movie, this movie is about the death of the sun god.
(00:12:28) - And I think that idea will unfold as we watch the film, but for now just notice the way that time is traditionally constructed around the sun, right, a sun clock. Now we'll see two words, the first, Kavvanah. Intent. And then here Gopnik makes the joke about the Supreme Court justice and I guess the film doesn't say more about Kavanaugh in this moment, but sort of plants it into our brains. And there's a lot of spiritual underpinnings in these first scenes, right?
(00:13:23) - So if you want to say that this film doesn't have anything to say about spirituality, then you'll have to contend with the first scene of the opening credits being an ikaro from an ayahuasca ceremony, the Shipibo people, and the second scene referencing two profound Jewish mystical or spiritual ideas of kavvanah and we'll see in a moment, teshuva, which is atonement or return. And here Tara is going to share her perspective more explicitly. What gives her the right to be the timekeeper? What gives her the right to be the sun god?
(00:14:24) - And she draws a distinction between her and Leonard Bernstein. He celebrated the joy of his discovery. That's her description of Bernstein, whereas she, in contrast, is a little bit more measured, right? There's no discovery in the performance. It's all in rehearsal. And her intention is to read the tea leaves of Mahler's intention. That is to say she wants to sort of meet Mahler exactly where he is or was when he composed it. It's funny, this film was produced or created before the Roe v. Wade decision or I should say reversal.
(00:15:39) - But this is almost two Supreme Court justices arguing here, she and Leonard Bernstein. She's a, what do you call it, a literalist? She wants to, what does she say here? Here we go. Now we have the explicit reference to the Icaro. The singer has to meet the spirit in the spirit world for her. And so her understanding of teshuva is different than what I read on Wikipedia. I mean, the one I read on Wikipedia focuses more on atonement and hers is more about sort of transformation of the past, which is kind of an interesting flavor of defining atonement.
(00:16:55) - But going back to the Supreme Court justice reference, you know, imagine two justices disagreeing and one is sort of saying, what was the intent of the forefather? Let's go back to that time and think about what they were thinking. And then the other is sort of what feels alive now? And she's a conservative in that way. She's a Samuel Alito in that way.
(00:17:28) - And Leonard Bernstein to her has that, you know, and I mean, I think there's maybe something slightly stereotypical about this, but sort of that warm, warm Jewish quality, that earthy quality that rich quality that contrasts with tar sort of buttoned up whiteness. Tar is the sun god, tar is bleach, bleachy white. And warmth. It's interesting, the sun god radiates warmth, but somehow lacks it. So here we are flirting.
(00:18:12) - And you know, we were already sort of, if you have a transcendent experience, and you start to describe it, sometimes it becomes dead in your language. And here, I'm struck by sort of the deadening effect of this flirtation, right? They're talking about, oh, these highs and takes hours to come down from. But there's something kind of dead about this conversation to me. And so I think we're, I think part of my discomfort when I watched this the first time and what I'm picking up on now is like, tar is kind of full of shit in a way.
(00:18:53) - Here she is admiring the bag, which I think she'll later acquire in the same color, maybe in a different color. More disembodied texting. And now we have the lunch. Kind of all monochrome here, black and white, very desaturated. And again, I felt when I first watched this, a kind of a continued attack on liberal elitism, right? It's like a reminder that the ultra wealthy can be on the left.
(00:20:00) - well. And I definitely felt like Field was sort of going after liberal elites from as a liberal elite. You know, I mean, this is this is an attack from within the ranks, for sure. Otherwise, it wouldn't be so on point. Somehow incredibly, and I don't know if we know this guy's name is Elliot Kaplan yet, but somehow incredibly, I picked up on the reference to I get mixed up with her, who's real and who's fake.
(00:20:40) - I think Gabe Kaplan is the this is Elliot Kaplan and Gabe Kaplan, if you Wikipedia him, you'll see the striking similarity to Mark Strong with the hair in particular. Gabe Kaplan was this guy who had been a banker, I think like Elliot Kaplan, and then just sort of fell in love with Mahler and made it his his sort of second career to conduct Mahler and did so. And so it's sort of like a weird Easter egg here. And there are so many Easter eggs in this film. I mean, we'll talk about the Easter eggs in a minute.
(00:21:13) - And I think it's both Fields biggest strength and perhaps his biggest weakness is just the sheer number of Easter eggs in this. And so here's an Easter egg that seemingly has no significance. Elliot Kaplan is a nod to Gabe Kaplan. Here we get confirmation that she's a non Jew, I kind of forgotten about that. So you know, it's interesting, there's, there's a thread, Shipibo people to Hebrew, Jewish. And now we have sort of a Jew in the culture in Elliot Kaplan.
(00:22:16) - It's interesting because Elliot has money, he has power, and it is very quite, quite humble about, you know, his ability to translate that into musical virtuosity. Whereas Tarr has no doubts now, I mean, Tarr is brilliant, as we'll see. But somehow Kaplan's relation to power is more honest or more humble. He knows he's like, I'm only in this because I'm a rich banker. And that can only get you so far.
(00:23:19) - The dialogue was so, so sort of faithful in this film that I mean, when I watched this the first time, I just had no idea what these people were talking about. Here we have the first reference of Roboto. And I think roboticism is a hugely important theme in this film, right alongside power and spirit. Maybe that feels like the triad in this moment. Spirit, power and roboticism. We'll talk more about that as we continue the film. But notice in this scene, there'll be two references of roboticism. The first referencing Sebastian, Mr. Tempo Roboto.
(00:24:12) - And then here toward Kaplan himself.
(00:25:09) - There she goes. There's no glory for a robot. What she's telling him is like, go your own way. Do your own thing, as she has done. And he takes it to heart. But to what extent is she a robot? We'll find out, judge for ourselves. So here we have the first piece of music and I remember thinking, okay, here we go. Settling in, getting excited, the tension is there, it's mounting, modern piece, and she just stops it. So this is something the film is going to do a painful number of times, but it really doesn't want us to have the payoff of musicality.
(00:25:53) - It wants us to stay in this nervous, tense, uncomfortable place for how many minutes are we? Almost 30 minutes in already. So this is an incredible scene. I mean, this is just a transcendent scene. So, I mean, she's coming in as sort of the... She's so in her element. This is one of her elements. It's not her only element, as we'll see when she's working with the orchestra. But she's just oozing charisma and confidence. Then we really see the student's leg shaking here. Again, I mean, just time after time, Field is wanting to make us uncomfortable.
(00:27:49) - But I think the trembling leg in particular, somehow to me has a very important role alongside the roboticism, the spirit, and the power. He's not being robotic. I mean, he's not just a Gen Z dipshit. If he was, he wouldn't be shaking the way he is. There's some way his spirit feels threatened by Tar. I think that's what the shaking leg tells us, that Tar and the way she wields power is somehow a threat to the spirit. She makes people uncomfortable. And so, I mean, this is an important lecture, in a way. Like this isn't just a scene.
(00:28:52) - What she's talking about is a continuation of what she started talking about in the interview, around intention and return, and her distinction between her own values and those of Bernstein. You interpret it for them. But the way you interpret them is what? Well, she's about to show us through Bach. If you want to drink what I'm drinking, I'm having a mezcal on the rocks. I kind of zoned out during that little bit, but that sounded like the heart of darkness there. This woman who went down the Congo or something like that.
(00:30:07) - We've got that that whiff of colonialism and and Heart of Darkness and Conrad, Joseph Conrad, will come into the picture in a big way toward the end of this film so it's an interesting kind of tease. I mean here Tara's in it, isn't she? I mean she's kind of winning us over. She's still got all that sort of teacher shit going on but she's also in it. There's something true about what she's saying. And here I mean I find this scene incredible. And revealing about her philosophy. She's also the flirtiest she's ever been which is interesting.
(00:32:25) - Flirty maybe that's not the right word because I mean she's so much flirty with the girl but like she's sort of the most magnetic she's ever been. That's a much better word for it. It's a question and an answer. And she says it's always the question never the answer. And that's how she feels about art. That's how she feels about music. She wants to meet the music. She wants to meet the composer on the other side. She wants her art to be like the art of the Shipibo people that is past and present converge when she meets the spirit.
(00:33:20) - So for her there isn't an act of interpretation that feels heavy. There's an act of facing and receiving and meeting and asking. It's a practice of being there for her. But only a couple minutes later she will kind of riff on her own philosophy in a way that makes us move away from her. And what does she say here? I think here she's just giving some tough love. She likes turning gazes that's for sure. And the way that she turns everyone's gaze on Max is inappropriate. And that's what the sun god does.
(00:35:17) - I mean the sun can turn its gaze and turn society's gaze anywhere it wants. And that heat is sometimes unbearable. And here she says robot again. So that's her third reference of robot already. So you know if you didn't pick up on that the first time I hope now you're convinced. And here she says you have to sublimate yourself. You must stand in front of God and obliterate yourself. And so there's this new flavor to her spirituality or her art which is not a mere act of being there or facing. It's also an act of annihilation.
(00:35:59) - And that's what maybe Freud would kind of call it the death wish. Like there's some sense in which her ego her heavy heavy heavy ego she just wants to get rid of it. And she doesn't know how except through art. And so when she experiences art she experiences it as orgasmic as this big payoff in part because of the way it obliterates her identity. And she feels the violence of that or the annihilation of that and that's very pleasant for her in a way that as we'll see for others most significantly the cellist Olga you know doesn't have to be like that.
(00:36:44) - That's characteristic of the sun god. The sun god's secret wish is to die. And she will be granted that wish in a structural way as we'll see. So I mean Charles Ives so many of these references are over my head. But I have talked about the movie with a few musicians and incredibly I mean the movie just delivers on so many fronts including you know those in the scene really find it resonant and I've heard two separate people say like this Todd must have you know must have studied this person. Tar must be based on this person and they didn't mention the same person so.
(00:40:01) - I mean the dialogue here is just, you know, it's sort of a throwaway scene that's just so, so strong. Crazy, the way that all these different relationships are unfolding. I mean, I didn't even notice that the first time, but there she says it explicitly, are any of Sharon's pills left? If there's any doubt about what happens later. And there we have her sealing Krista's fate. I didn't really track the Krista plot line that carefully. And so I'm aware that this can really be interpreted and experienced as a horror film.
(00:41:30) - I think we've already seen Krista's head once. And there's sort of the who was stalking her who's texting about her those questions. Those never felt particularly alive for me, but I will do my best to speak to them as they come up. And they're coming up right now because there's this book called Challenge. And you know what, I didn't get a chance to read about this novel Challenge, but I think that's like, right now. Vito Sackville West. I guess it's kind of an LGBT classic. I don't know much about it.
(00:42:29) - And here we're sort of, she's doing like wordle with Krista Taylor's name or anagrams with Krista Taylor's name, which of course invites one to do anagrams of one own. And we'll see them later of tar, of course, rat, but also noticing that Krista includes tar. And so you could say she's tar sick or she kissed tar. And I mean, this home is just like a brutalist nightmare. It looks like a prison. I laughed a couple times just at taking in the interior here. I guess it's probably somebody's idea of a warm home, but it's so bleak.
(00:43:23) - And here we're looking for Sharon's pills. Oh, there they are in my pocket, which I don't even think they are. Like I think it sounded like she got sort of other pills. So she's just giving her some random pills. But I guess it is the right one. It is the bag. So I guess the implications she slept with that woman or maybe she just grabbed the bag. I'm not sure. And this for me is where Cate Blanchett won the Academy Award for Best Female Actor. And I mean, Best Whatever Actor for what it's worth.
(00:44:25) - You know, in the spirit of this film and its questions about gender identity, because we've seen her be about five different people in the interview. But before the interview, sort of preparing for it, flirting with that woman, having lunch with Cate Kaplan and the teacher, Juilliard, the lover in the car. And now she's at home and she just sort of like sinks into this marriage. And they're both sort of old, old women in a way in this scene.
(00:45:06) - There's just something about Cate Blanchett's face here that's so relaxed. I fell in love with her performance in this scene. And as much as I loved Michelle Yeoh in her career and in Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, it just doesn't hold a candle to this performance. And I came in as kind of a Cate Blanchett skeptic in the sense of like, I like Cate Blanchett, but she's sort of like Cate Blanchett is blank. And so I thought this was going to be sort of Cate Blanchett is tar.
(00:45:40) - And she's just so versatile and embodies so many roles in these first five scenes that I just I was blown away. And I find that to be, you know, I mean, this is something that maybe is a central question about tar and maybe a place that I am more sympathetic to her than some of my friends have been. Because the prevailing sentiment is that tar is a monster. That's a word that more than a few people have sort of used to describe her. And you know, maybe she is. shifter. I'm not sure. But I tend to think that it's just it's just interesting the way she's showing up differently in role to role. I mean, this scene, you Lenny, Walter, MTT, like every chance the movie gets to convey its proficiency in the subject matter. It takes that. I mean, look at this bathroom. The mechanical Roboto toothbrush. The prison walls. So here's something crazy that while preparing for this commentary I discovered, because somewhere along the way when I watched this the first time I wrote down in my notes, the death of the sun god.
(00:47:56) - And here's this random scene. Who will bear the paw? Here's this poem that I wasn't familiar with. But after watching the second time, I googled, you know, this who will bear the paw? And it's a poem called who killed cock Robin? Now why would why would Todd field stick this in right like what is the job? And Wikipedia says this a number of theories have been advanced to explain the meaning of the rhyme. But point one, the rhyme records a mythological event such as the death of the god Baldr from Norse mythology.
(00:48:49) - And you Google Baldr and his name means both brave and bold. But also shows association with the meaning of day perhaps, perhaps, perhaps he's personified as a deity day day personified as a deity. The Baltic, Baltas, meaning shining one white one a god. So this is literally a poem about the death of the sun god, which is incredible as a coincidence. Given that that was sort of my take home note.
(00:49:33) - And I'll see if I can remember exactly the moment that I wrote this down my notes, I still have my notes, I watched it one of those movie theaters where they give you food and you can write down your menu order. And I love those because I just get these index cards that I can scribble scribble on. And so that's what I that's what I did. By the way, this scene where she's threatening Johanna. It was one of the two scenes in the film that got a big pop from the audience. And she says God watches us all. And of course, the implication is that she is God.
(00:50:07) - and she watches all just as the sun god watches all, at least during the daytime. By the way, there's another interpretation, according to Celtic traditions, which is that Lug, the sun god who dies as the night get longer after the summer stolus, is marked in the old Celtic pictographic calendar with a bow and arrow shape. Lug was the primary god representing the red sun and was also known in Welsh as Cócri Ben, anglicized to Cock Robin.
(00:50:37) - The sparrow who kills him with my bow and arrow represents Bron the Blessed, the god of winter in the form of a raven. So the stage is set for this sun god to be taken down, and in the tradition that I mentioned earlier of the Norse god Baldr, he's taken down by his blind brother, whose name is what is it, Hodr? Yeah, Hodr, who is blind and Loki kind of directs him where to shoot, and he shoots with mistletoe.
(00:51:17) - And the reason that mistletoe kills Baldr is because Baldr was made immune to or invincible to everything except for mistletoe, which his mother, I guess, apparently thought was sort of too harmless to even bother naming in her big list of what can't kill Baldr. So he's a bit like Achilles in that sense. And similarly, as we'll see, Tar is killed not by a mighty foe, but sort of by the people or by mistletoe. She sort of is felled by something small, and that's how the sun god has to go out. Nothing can defeat the sun god in holy battle.
(00:51:57) - None is holy or none is higher. The sun god has to be sort of felled by his own, or in this case, her own arrogance hubris. And that's what will happen. We blew past sort of Tar peeking under the bathroom stall that that for me was a very Michael Haneke piano teacher moment. And I mean, this this film is so full of references. It's and indebted to influence. It's really, really interesting. And again, I mean, I find feel to be really enigmatic in this way.
(00:52:48) - Like what is what is field beyond sort of this tapestry of brilliant filmmakers that influenced him. And maybe that's what he is. He's the most prismatic of them all. Who else could make a film this sort of neutral, this kind of cipher like this open to interpretation. And so these scenes with Andrus are the sun god lineage, right? I mean, he's the retired sun god and she's the rising sun god. There's there's this Apple series about the Asimov Foundation books, and it does something kind of wonderful, which is it creates an emperor.
(00:53:38) - But in the movies are in the in the series on on Apple TV, and I think this is different than the book. It kind of creates this immortal emperor who is kind of breeding clones of himself. And so at any given time exists as dawn day and dusk, that is to say his childhood form, his adult form and his elder form. And so they all they all sort of consult with each other on key decisions. And it's just really, really clever. And something similar is happening here. where we have sort of the sun god in her heyday, and the sun god kind of at his sunset.
(00:54:20) - But there is no dawning sun in this film, because this film is about the death of the sun god tar is in some meaningful way the last sun god. And already, like the human form in which the sun god can be reborn is already limited. There's no more Andrus is the sun god can never be reborn as a white man, just in the same way that this film can never exist if tar were a white man. tar, a powerful, brilliant, extractive, rational, perhaps monstrous being must reside in a marginalized soul, marginalized body in order to be permitted to exist.
(00:55:05) - And soon there will be no more bodies that the sun god can inhabit. And at that point, the sun god will die. Now, whether we should mourn the sun god or just simply bury her is is perhaps the primary question that the film asks. And so here, they're sort of jokingly talking about Schopenhauer and inviting the question, is the private failing relevant to the work? And that is actually like not, I don't think that's what the film is asking. Certainly not what I'm asking about. That's a well trod question.
(00:55:55) - This film is just sort of like a question about about the sun god about a kind of being that is so connected to source. I mean, this is a woman who spent serious time in Amazon learning from the Shipipo people, presumably. She clearly learned their language, learned their ways connected with that source. Sort of so that she could take it back to Berlin and convert it. The sun god is incredibly, batteries are good. Like, metaphor for how the sun god works, the sun god charges up and then uses his batteries. There's some sort of conversion of source.
(00:56:59) - If you've played Final Fantasy VII, like Mako is a good, or Tiberian, if you've played Command & Conquer, Unobtainium, if you've watched the Avatar series, right, these are all references to soul, to source, to mystical spirit. And some gods are really good at connecting to that source and converting it into knowledge, power, art. The sun god is fundamentally extractive in some way, and then so is Tar. And we just saw Tar at home struggling to compose anything, because she's disconnected from source.
(00:57:47) - And we'll see when her writer's block goes away, it's due to sort of her connection with the catholic underground that she moves into dream, into scenes like this, sirens, screaming. The only way for her to create is to reconnect with source. now we're back into music. And I mean, this is, I don't know Mahler, you know, I'm not a music, classical music guy, but this scene is dope. I'm sure composers have something to say about, you know, her mannerisms, but but again, the film provider sort of deprives us of fully enjoying the music.
(00:59:45) - It's just, it's just teasing us with these interruptions. And look at how she's in her element, right? I mean, she she's got her German going just as she had the Shipibo-Konibo language going at the beginning.
(01:00:01) - And like, for the first time, I think we really see her, like, in it. Which is again, an incredible accomplishment for the film. Like there's just so many versions of this woman that we've gotten to experience. And finally, it's taken this long. We've sort of had some hints, but you know, she's doing it. She's doing the thing here. What I mean is like, she's connected. And you get the feeling that every time she's saying, this is right, this is wrong, she's right.
(01:00:56) - And just as she was kind of connected to the microphone in the beginning, recording the Igoros, she's also, you know, she's talking to Harald. Harald has a big role to play back there. And in a moment, I think she'll go back there and talk to Harald. And I mean, the way the movie just hangs out here is just so cool. Somewhere in my original notes, I wrote, I had no idea they still make movies like this. Now for the first time we see Sharon kind of, her role, stepping in. She knows what tar means better than tar can communicate, especially in German.
(01:02:54) - There's something so athletic about her in these scenes, the way she's sort of coming into and out of rooms or striding. course, that area there she says, let's do something less considered, and it's the thing she's considered most, which is sort of a stealing. Again, this is like really insider. I mean, it's just incredible how insider this stuff is. But all these people are real. You know, this is, what's his name, Claudio Abbado, I think. Who was two generations back the composer for the same Philharmonic and now she wants to sort of take it over.
(01:04:43) - And again, now getting into this whole scene is just about orchestra politics. Just incredible stuff. And of course it's a metaphor. I mean, of course it's a metaphor for politicking or whatever, but it's also just like not a metaphor.
(01:05:00) - Like depiction of, you know, cycling out her, I guess, assistant composer. Let's watch this again, because I don't find it particularly interesting, but I can never really track who is Sebastian. He's the assistant composer, backup composer, and I guess the orchestra votes on it. Here we go, assistant conductor. Yeah, I mean, she would have been a great whip, and maybe she should have been a whip, a house majority whip. This film is an incredible takedown of mid-century modern. I don't think there's any going back after that scene.
(01:06:18) - So here's the woman who never reads reviews, and the man who's so used to her looking for reviews of her work that he's already brought up the page, here you go, ma'am, no charge, and she's ripping it out. Which you know, the box is called Sundries. That's a great detail. Yeah, just the design here is just so sad. I don't know, there's something very lonely about mid-century modern in this film. And here she's changing major to minor, and exactly that's what the film is about to do.
(01:07:08) - So things are going to get sort of increasingly dark from here, starting with this scene. This was the scene for me that like, Tar truly showed up as a monster, you know, I need someone to hold me. This isn't the place. And then of course news of Krista's death. You know, and so here let's apply our lens of like, is Tar a monster in every scene? Or is Tar a monster in some scenes? Does it matter? Why are we asking this question? These are two people who are processing this very differently. Tar doesn't give a shit.
(01:08:50) - Tar saw a threat to her stability, to her power, and irritation, and when she died, when she was gone. And the ukulele I guess presumably is in the Amazon, it certainly sounds Amazonian. So they all connected there. So I mean this ran deep. But Tar, we have to forget about her. The we, the charged we have to forget about her. You have to forget about her. Do you understand? And then the threatening. Do you understand? Can you follow orders? I mean she's a sergeant. She's a general. The military sun god.
(01:09:51) - That's what she does in the, as a whip or as the conductor. She gets people to march to her time.
(01:10:03) - There's a smile. I mean that yeah that smile there. Not great stuff. I chatted with a friend about these emails and you know I don't know let's say this woman really was unstable and people are asking for recommendation and saying I can't give you a recommendation. It didn't seem that heinous to me.
(01:10:35) - I mean okay the danger to your I mean clearly it's strongly worded but but what this person said it was like for these people you know a musical career is life and so if you're blackballed in the way that Tar blackballed her you are killing that person in some sense and I found that compelling. But I guess what I'm trying to fight against is the viewer who sort of said at this like this is the point what you know Breaking Bad that's when Walt broke bad.
(01:11:06) - There's a there's a meme among modern art that is sort of the you know anything Breaking Bad is maybe the the modern OG of this is sort of like we'll watch this person's descent and the game is how far can they go before you know the Sopranos is the OG now that I think about it.
(01:11:33) - But Breaking Bad revitalized the tradition and I just don't want Tar to belong in that tradition I think that's one of the weakest or least interesting ways to experience this movie but I also don't think that it's alternates like I don't think it's it's about well Tar is a good person or Tar is not a monster.
(01:11:50) - I just think Tar's monstrosity itself as subject matter is missing the richest fruits that this film has to offer and so experiencing her not as a psychology not as a personality also not as a culture not experiencing this film as a commentary on cancel culture but examining this film as a formal inquiry into the structure and the downfall of a particular power model a model of power that had been in place for thousands of years namely the the model of the Sun God.
(01:12:27) - There are many traditions that don't have a Sun God or that don't treat the Sun God as particularly higher than or certainly you know physically higher than but not necessarily spiritually higher than an Earth God or an underworld God. The you know at least many American traditions you know have the the Condor and the snake and what is a third one Condor snake I got my computer the Condor the Puma and the snake is kind of the Inca trilogy and the Condor the Sun God is not really superior to the snake at all.
(01:13:30) - The heavens are not superior to the Earth or the underworld. You know who set off my metronome again not not particularly exciting for me to explore. I don't think it was Petra. Petra of course meaning rock after Peter. In some ways you know this young girl is her spiritual rock. It's another way for her to be connected the love that she feels for this daughter of hers. Although in this particular scene there's some suspicion there. More more interrupted music. I mean she's
(01:15:24) - in it I mean I love these scenes you can just see she's so embodied she's so present and the orchestra gets it you know they're clicking with it. That's when she's in her element. She and she's a musical genius. I mean I don't know what movie has done a better job at communicating kind of genius not not alien genius but just sort of the everyday human genius that some people have. It's a very difficult thing to pull off and I think field pulls it off.
(01:16:09) - I love the film whiplash but when I would share it with my musical friends they'd be like what the fuck like this movie sucks and it probably does suck too. You know it doesn't pass muster at some musical level but this one does. So we're about to encounter Olga finally the cellist. She's getting a little hot hot and bothered. But before she does we have to talk to Sebastian. Yeah look at this look at this mid-century modern I mean Berlin just gets such a other than other than Tars old home which is very charming.
(01:17:14) - I mean it's just it just sucks in these interiors. And yeah I mean here here's a man who's extracted treasures he's like the Elgin's marbles kind of look at what I got from Kiev. Our only home is the podium we all live out of a suitcase. I think at the end of this I do want to read something from Lord Jim. Just made me remember that. So you know here for the first time Sebastian is naming it. You sleep with women and and you know grant favors.
(01:19:18) - And the irony of course is that in this narrow case Tar had no real I mean Tar just was sick of Sebastian she didn't want to grant any favors to Francesca. Francesca's she's just taking her totally for granted. I love this scene. You're a misogynist. It's one of my favorite. You misogynist. You hate marriage because Andreas his lover is married. So here she comes home.
(01:20:13) - And here we have the old robot again. So by the way, in what way or when is tar robotic? Tar is robotic when she's not connected to source and not, you know, when her batteries are low. So she's robotic much of the time. I mean, we have this sort of here's a smile. Let's look at the scene. She's certainly robotic in the interview with The New Yorker.
(01:20:55) - Just anytime she's sort of being highly manipulative and leaning on her accolades or leaning on her power or leaning on anything she's established rather than leaning on her connection to source, she's a robot. And so at this point, she's maybe 90% robot. Awkward. Where is the matcha? Brutal. In this office again. I mean, we'll see the reference to Hitler soon, but it does remind me a little bit of like kind of that bunker. There's a bunker quality to these interiors. So she asked for a matcha and then tar just went for a boxing class.
(01:22:37) - Just kept Francesca waiting. I made it very subtle, but yeah. This is a classic boomer thing, right? Like delete the emails, right? It's like, isn't that a Hillary Clinton thing? It's not that easy. That's a sun god reaction, right? Like delete the emails. Sun gods like to think that things can be. Sun gods want to deny the existence of the underworld. So they like to think that things can be eradicated and don't go anywhere when things, they just go to the underworld. And the sun god's death is equivalent to the nightfall.
(01:23:46) - And so here comes Olga, who is very endearing. What do we make of this character?
(01:25:22) - I mean this way she grabs the bread here. But then of course she's not a savage. I mean, okay, she is a savage, but her uncle leads some other symphony. Let's see. I mean she's very cute. And I think that's one of the things that, again, I appreciate about this movie is like, we have this young woman who Tar breaks all the rules to get into the orchestra purely because she wears high heels, she gets some feeling of sensuality. But is that sensuality separate from her art? I'm not sure.
(01:26:35) - I mean, I think Tar is falling in love with her the way that you and I might fall in love with her. There's a purity to her and we're going to see soon a musicality to her. And here we watch it, this kind of horrible dress. And what did Sharon say? Like her facial posture is a bit much. Sure it's a bit much, but she's just going for it. And this is the first time that Field is letting us experience musical ecstasy. He wants us to fall in love with Olga. Just as Tar is falling in love with Olga.
(01:28:14) - It's our first hint of death and she will come back in a big way soon. Yeah, so being haunted by the refrigerator, being haunted by the clock, being haunted by screaming. Tara's in trouble. And part of what's haunting her is source. I mean, I think there's some sense in which she's being called out for her fraudulence. Completely apart from her abuse of power, completely apart from kind of conventional wrongdoings, she's also sort of done spirit wrong in some way. And if you want to connect those two, that's totally fine.
(01:30:42) - So here's some drama that I haven't totally sorted out. Let's see if we can figure it out. She watched the YouTube clip of her playing Elgar's cello concerto. But is this woman Elgar? This is Elgar, no? Or is it not? No, okay. Elgar is a man. But this is Gosia. So maybe Gosia traditionally would have selected the musician, or would Gosia have been the musician? The thing I don't understand is, Gosia doesn't end up auditioning. So what is Gosia's role exactly? But again, more like politicking. Here's Britta, who I think we're meeting for the first time.
(01:32:56) - So I guess Britta can't be the person who's been streaming this whole time, but maybe she and Francesca are in it together. For good reason we have it. We have reason to believe that Britta could be the only person who's streaming later in the film. So I've been trying to analyze it from that whodunit perspective. I just don't think there's that much meat on those bones. I guess I'll take this moment to try to talk about the one maybe flaw in feel that I experience. But again, I don't even know. Why do we have to point out flaws? I don't.
(01:34:16) - But I mean, when I watch this movie, I think about Paul Verhoeven. I think about Martin Scorsese. I think about Michael Haneke. I think about David Lynch. And each of those directors, I feel like in that way Field is almost a little Tarantino-esque. He's pulling on influences in the way that a fan might pull on influences. And unlike what you can say about each of those directors, each of those directors has a DNA. Verhoeven has such strong DNA. Haneke has such strong DNA. Lynch has such a movie. A Lynch movie is a Lynch movie.
(01:35:11) - A Verhoeven movie is a Verhoeven movie. A Haneke movie is a Haneke movie. Each of these artists has an agenda that they can't help but advance in their films. And Field, he went 16 years without making a movie, which is incredible. And it sort of says something about how much or how little the practice meant to him somehow. He wasn't killing himself to make a movie. He found work in other ways and he was patient. And he's made this total fucking masterpiece. But I don't know what Field's DNA is.
(01:35:55) - And I don't know if Field actually has DNA. And his DNA might be that he has no DNA. His style might be the style of no style or the style of many styles. And if there is a knock to be leveled here, it's that like, does he really need to afford so many interpretations to the movie? Does it need to be a horror movie and a psychosexual thriller and all of these different things? To what end does he want it to be so endlessly interpretable? I'm not sure. I mean, clearly, he's done something marvelous in terms of making it a sort of a cultural touchstone.
(01:36:45) - And so that's a huge accomplishment. Maybe he needed to be that open with it in order to make that possible. I don't know. So we're having another scene with Andrus and this one we're going to get a little bit more he's getting all worked up because he thinks he's being accused. And you know, here we're calling in the ghosts of hunted accused people. She's seeking counsel. Again, it's the Sun God talking to the Dusk God.
(01:37:42) - And now he's explicitly for the first time bringing in Berlin's history, war era conductors who who led their orchestra at the behest of Hitler. You know, here he's complaining sort of about these men who were in his eyes unjustly persecuted for their affiliation with Nazis, but you know, I mean, what were you supposed to do in 1945? He's saying like, I didn't I didn't I didn't even write Heil Hitler to Hitler himself. This is a significant phrase. He was playing corpses.
(01:38:43) - The art was so important to him that he played in the cemetery and of course, we'll see tar at the end doing something similar. And she's she's being really dismissive of this comparison. But from a formal from a structural perspective, we shouldn't right so while from a social perspective, certainly playing favorites with women that you're attracted to and sleep with is less bad than being a Nazi from a structural point of view. It's all it's all Sun God behavior.
(01:39:18) - I mean, the Sun God would have been probably sympathetic to to an ideology of sort of purity and brilliance and excellence, and sort of the obliteration of all that is dark and impure. So here's Gosha. This is what I don't understand.
(01:40:00) - What did Gosia want? Did Gosia want this guy to be the performer? Why was she so happy? I thought she was happy because she wanted to play it. But then if she wanted to play it, why is she not auditioning? And of course Elga crushes it. And everyone knows it's Elga at this point, but it's undeniable. She's a beautiful cellist. This is tough. We feel bad for Francesca. She's not a very sympathetic character. There's something about her that... Well, the scene in the car says it all, right? Like, there's only room for one asshole.
(01:42:12) - You knew the rules of the game. I just don't... you know, why did she stay with... why did Francesca stay with Tari that long? I'm not sure. Tari that long? Was it because of love? Was it because she wanted to be the conductor? I'm not sure. You feel for her when Krista dies. This apartment is great. This is the only nice apartment. You know, and here... this is a beautiful scene. Because what's happening, Tari's just listening. She's just there. She's following. Bleck. Strong. I take my coffee bleck. Strong. A little bit like... I don't know.
(01:44:20) - I think this woman is acting for the first time. She's brilliant in every way that she needs to be. In terms of like... I don't think she's Russian for one thing. I could be wrong. But it sounds a bit like I'm doing a Russian accent. And then Todd Field doesn't really help her with dialogue. How do you like your coffee? Bleck. Strong. I think this is like one straight up weakness of this film. But it's such a hard role to do well because you need like a world-class cellist who has this beautiful appeal that you and Tar are gonna fall in love with and she needs to be a good actress. And then I just, yeah, I just don't think that they're doing any favors with writing for her. So, I mean, Tar has fully sprung at this point. This is one of my favorite comic relief moments. like, what is the point of this scene? I think maybe it's to re-soften Tar. Like, Tar is not Sharon's mom. Sharon's mom is the goddess of sort of order. This must be this way. Everything must be in its place.
(01:47:07) - Everything must be in order. That's not Tar. Tar is willing to make a mess. Tar is willing to sacrifice everything for source. It's just that Tar is fundamentally confused about the nature. Oh, let's wait here. Yeah, so this is one of the first scenes we get that really gets to, we get to bathe in the musicality of it. And so Tar earns that, like, love touch on Olga there. Yeah, I mean, Tar is exhilarated. And so that relates to what I want to say about the distinction between Tar and Sharon's mom. Tar is not like a freak of order.
(01:48:36) - She's just addicted to source. She's addicted to energy. And so when she has these peak experiences, she says to herself, how do I get more of that and convert more of that into power? So there's some fundamental confusion around scarcity, which is why in so many of these films, you know, power gets translated into something like oil or something like spice in Dune, right? It's like, that's what the sun god does. The sun god turns art into power. So things are starting to go downhill for Tar now. You know, it's been a long second half of the film.
(01:49:52) - I've got a dumb phone like every robot. So, so, I mean, let me try to articulate this.
(01:49:59) - More clearly to myself and to you, we talked about these sort of three themes introduced very early on. Source, that is to say the Ikaro, the Shippibo, Konibbo people, music, connection, truth, God, that's one. The second is power, sovereignty, the conductor, the CEO, the boss, the resource manager, the dollar out of goods, the one who directs others to cast their gaze where one wants. So there's power, and then there's the robot, the protocol, the golem, the procedure, the AI, Elliot Kaplan, Sebastian, the old guard, the calcified one.
(01:51:17) - And the sun god sort of sits between source and robot. And the reason that the sun god sits there is because the sun god can commune with source, can connect with source, but the sun god's fate is to turn that into technology. And once technologized, robots want to take over. We'll interrupt this exploration for this fantastic scene. You know, and we have to say something in Taurus favor here. There is sort of a sort of a fearlessness to her that we'll see show up over and over and over again.
(01:52:01) - She's wandering into this room, covering her nose with her hand, presumably it smells awful. Her neighbor, just this, this old woman on the floor. This is our fate. She's like sores. And I mean, the fate is directly linked here where we see the exposed breasts of the old woman. And then, you know, of all of all the context, we could see Cate Blanchett's breasts, we see them in this context, an immediate follow on to. So I mean, you know, you she's trying to out out damn spot the specter of death. But of course, that's not something she can do.
(01:53:18) - And what is death to the sun god death is being disconnected from source. The sun god doesn't die like you and I die. The sun god dies when there's no more resources, when there's no more, there's nothing left in source, when it's all just technology. And here's the antidote to death. This living breathing connection to source, there's something about Olga, that is so life giving.
(01:53:49) - So that even if tar herself struggles these days to be creative to get unblocked, here, here's this wonderful young woman, totally natural, who seems to just live, live connectedly live live in connection, not try to turn it into anything. And that presents itself as another way of being that I don't think the film wants us to ignore. Like we'll talk about what happens after the death of the sun god, but Olga might be one possibility. The challenge with Olga is like, what is there to say about her other than her youthfulness?
(01:54:44) - I mean, couldn't Olga in 20 years just turn into tar? And again, I mean, another sign that the film wants to support this kind of line of questioning is tar takes a chance to return the teddy bear to the child. Right? Like there's this there's something about Olga's innocence that produces an innocent gesture within tar at, you know, seemingly great cost. A beautiful Berlin courtyard here. And I know that there's sort of one interpretation going that tar dies here or something like that.
(01:55:48) - There's sort of a Scorsese type, you know, I think both in both King of Comedy and in Taxi Driver, there's there are valid interpretations where sort of Act Three is all hallucination and Field chooses to provide us with the same option here. I personally don't find that as rich of an interpretation as just taking it at its word, particularly because I'm just not my preferred interpretation isn't that interested in like the facts of the situation for people and so and so these charged like sort of metaphorical situations are not metaphors at all.
(01:56:27) - They're just literal statements about kind of the structural death of the Sun God. The Sun God dies when in its last incarnation as a U-Haul lesbian, she falls in love with, you know, innocence and is killed over a teddy bear and just like Baldur was killed over mistletoe. Of course as sort of near death as the scene is it's actually not that like, oof, I hate that sound. It's like not that central to her downfall. I mean it sort of marks her downfall but so how is she falling?
(01:57:20) - She's simultaneously being destroyed by the people ie by the, you know, okay, so there's oil and there's the oil Baron and then there's the Vox Populi the town that sort of serves under the oil Baron at some point they rise up and destroy him. So that's what's happening in one sense. There's all these people who are outraged by her abuse of power in the past and finally things are adding up that it's like time to bring her down. And that's that's the tradition, right?
(01:57:56) - Like I mean, I think as she's talking about with Andrus like that's been happening since the World War II. So I guess that begs the question like why is she the last Sun God? Why is now the Sun God ready to die? And I think that that is in that's probably why it's this isn't just about cancel culture. This is also about the Sun gods the depletion of resources, right?
(01:58:23) - Like the destruction of the planet the destruction of the rainforest the the actual bottoming out of these resources that the way in which the Sun God extracts source were we're kind of running out. And how is that represented here? I suppose it's represented by her desperation to just sort of connect with those who are connected ie Olga. We'll pause that thought. And again the fearlessness here, right? I mean, she's she's a beast.
(01:59:14) - I love when things start to go like like half the orchestras like that was funny and then the other half the orchestras like oh my God, what the hell is going on here? Of course, she wasn't attacked.
(02:00:34) - Yeah, so what makes this the death of the Sun God? It's not just cancel culture, although cancel culture has never been stronger. dangerous, you know, compellingly points to the tradition of cancel culture, all the way back to post-war Germany and denazification. So there's always been some cleansing. So there's a part there. There's a part in the sort of derivative nature, right, Beethoven copied Mozart, and then someone copied Beethoven. It's a copy of a copy of a copy and disconnection from source. That's a part of it.
(02:01:17) - And I think there's something to be said about the way that the Sun God actually wants to be obliterated, just as tar wants to be obliterated by youth, by beauty. And then there's the rise of the robot. I think the robot is the rightful heir to the Sun God, because the robot doesn't need to commune with source. The robot is happy to work with the rich amount of data that's in the field. The robot like Elliot Kaplan is unobtrusive, unobscuming, unharmful, and unoriginal. And why do we need originality at this point?
(02:02:09) - The Sun God has converted so much of the source into material, into technology for us to work with. So I think those are the contributors to the death of the Sun God. It's not one thing. It's maybe a thousand arrows. It's the wish for obliteration. It's the end of source. It's the rise of cancel culture, and it's the appearance of the robot. And so our question as we enter kind of the last few minutes of this film is like, how do we feel about that? Is it good riddance? Or is there something to mourn?
(02:03:13) - By the way, I just had one glass of mezcal this whole time, and I'm going to pour myself a little bit now. Here comes death. She's next. This scene wants to say. But again, in a formal way, this isn't about the literal death of Lydia Tarr or the cancellation of Lydia Tarr. This is about the end of a kind of genius. And, you know, so just as we pointed to multiple things causing the Sun God's downfall, you know, here, that's when I said downfall. Isn't that the name of that, like, Hitler movie? Yeah, there's a narrative here. And it's not total fiction.
(02:04:46) - I think in my conversations with people, I've come off as sort of pro tar. And so maybe I need to, like, do something to address that here.
(02:05:06) - A few things. One is that I think Tara's monstrosity and the camp of she is or she isn't a monster is one of my least favorite ways to engage with this film. And so for people who sort of want to engage with me and say Tara is a monster, don't interpret my fighting back as to say, aha, Tara is not a monster. I'm just fighting back on the whole framing. And then on top of that, and aside from that, I do think the central question this film is not a meditation on power, merely I mean, that's part of what the film is doing.
(02:05:44) - But it's also a meditation on a particular kind of genius, the genius of the sun god. And it's asking the question, can we and do we want to survive outside of that genius that sort of tyrannical zero sum way of connecting to source? And I want to give that question space. And I don't think it's trivially clear that we say, you know, good riddance to Tara. Because she displays qualities that are wonderful. That fearlessness, that courage, that honesty. Now does the film give us other ways out? It does. It gives us Olga and it gives us the robot.
(02:06:42) - And the challenge with Olga is it's her condition is so seemingly linked to youth and innocence that it's not obvious or clear to me how one succeeds the sun god with Olga's. Olga's get old, Olga's get entrenched in power. Olga's get paid well, Olga's go on private flights, Olga's eat steak dinners, Olga's go to donor meetings. And then I think with the robot, it's more obviously a shame if we if we no longer want to talk about when someone is connected or when someone's not connected.
(02:07:27) - I mean, this film shows us Tara connected and shows us Tara disconnected. And robots don't, the idea of connection is not meaningful to a robot, to an Elliot Kaplan. He just wants to get the secrets, get the playbook. that says all you need to know about the tar stance to Kaplan. And it's cruel, but it's not wrong. Meanwhile, here's youthful Olga, who is pretty keen at this point to distance herself from tar. Here's a beautiful example of disconnection. The text here is sacred. Tar's reading of it is just totally disconnected.
(02:09:50) - And there's probably an alternate reading of this that maybe is touching. I'm not sure. But what a juxtaposition. I mean, we'll see Leonard Bernstein in a minute. And for me, this was a scene that made me cry from feeling.
(02:10:09) - And we'll get to appreciate it soon.
(02:10:11) - But you know, what did that text say? Like, oh my God, she's moving on to allegory, right?
(02:10:16) - The sort of pretentiousness.
(02:10:20) - I mean, I don't think we've maybe done enough in this commentary just to name it.
(02:10:25) - The pretentiousness and the ego is just so, tar on tar, right, as that image comes up.
(02:10:37) - That's a big part of who she is.
(02:10:39) - It's not great.
(02:10:41) - It's not necessary to genius. But it might be necessary to collaborative genius.
(02:10:58) - It might be necessary for directing or for conducting, for getting a large group of people to march to your drumbeat.
(02:11:07) - Time is the thing, right?
(02:11:10) - There's something so important about power and time that feels just out of reach to me, but very, very important.
(02:11:23) - Probably the central thing to say about this movie will be something to say about time. And maybe there's some way that tar hasn't faced up to her own death. And so all of her politicking and maneuvering is a response to that not facing death.
(02:11:58) - For all of her touting of wanting to face the maker, she hasn't faced her own maker. Something like that, maybe a fuller interpretation than the one I'm prepared to make now.
(02:12:20) - It was Britta. I guess that's the indication that maybe that was the person who's been texting all this time or just texting some of the time. I don't know. So here's the dissolution of marriage. This mezcal that I'm looking at is called Granja Nomada. And I assume nomada means nomad, and there's kind of a nomadic looking farmer walking across a field on the label. And there's something to say about the impossibility of coming home for a character like tar.
(02:13:57) - And we'll touch on that in a moment.
(02:14:07) - But I do wanna wait until we get to, I think it's the Philippines. Certainly Southeast Asia, we hear one scene in Thai and another scene in Tagalog. So I think it's the Philippines. And here Sharon says something explicit. Their relationship was born in politicking.
(02:14:40) - They were kind of like the house of cards couple. I don't know what was so horrible about the place.
(02:14:53) - Was she with somebody else?
(02:14:57) - How cruel of you to define our relationship as transactional?
(02:15:01) - And then to this Sharon says, there's only one relationship you've ever had that wasn't.
(02:15:08) - And she's sleeping in the room next door. And it's true.
(02:15:14) - Because the sun god uses people. The sun god uses everything. I guess in this thinking the sun god isn't exactly the sun.
(02:15:27) - Because the sun god can't be source. The sun god has to be a converter of source into energy. And this scene with the car rolling up and everyone turning to go.
(02:15:43) - We're about to get into, let's see how much.
(02:15:46) - We've got 20 minutes left.
(02:15:50) - Just a lot of time.
(02:15:51) - I don't know if I have that much more to say about this film.
(02:15:54) - But I do wanna, I do wanna, I do wanna introduce some Joseph Conrad. Because I've mentioned fields like cinematic influences.
(02:16:14) - But he also I think explicitly at a couple points wants to pay tribute to Joseph Conrad. First with Heart of Darkness and also with, here's these scenes.
(02:16:30) - This is like a, what's that guy's name? Jonathan Glaser. Again, like every time I see these, like this sort of dreamy, watery sequence.
(02:16:44) - She's imagining Krista kind of holding her.
(02:16:48) - Like I think of somebody else. And maybe that's me. I mean, maybe this is what Field does. Field lets me pour my influences into him.
(02:16:57) - But I don't think so.
(02:16:58) - I think I wish someone, I hope someone who knows film better than I do can chime in. I find him very like derivative. It to put it like in the most unflattering way. In some of these scenes, I find him to be doing his best ex impression at times. Which is fine, because he does enough different impressions that he becomes completely his own artist.
(02:17:25) - And I don't know his other work, but I'm really excited to watch it at some point.
(02:17:36) - Here we have the torn away from Petra scene.
(02:17:39) - That's tough.
(02:17:40) - Please don't do this.
(02:17:41) - You know, it's getting pretty dark. It's not great. And again, these scenes, you know, from the view of the car, but there's no payoff on the horror. Like there is no killer in the end, which I guess is not a knock against the film. Like I think the lack of the killer points to the true death of the sun god.
(02:18:09) - He would be sort of ridiculous in a way if she were taken down by, let's say Francesca, her assistant or by Krista, like that she can't be taken down by a mere mortal. There's something almost like, hey, Galyen, like she has to be sort of taken down by the times. And here we go. You know, this is another Protar moment, right? Like the move from ego, oh, I'm glad you enjoyed the music, to realizing that actually they just, you know, it's a noise issue. And so how does she respond? Beautifully.
(02:19:01) - Slamming the door in their face and then finding her accordion. I don't quite know the meaning of the accordion, the significance of the accordion.
(02:19:11) - Also the name of her fellowship for young women.
(02:19:15) - Probably, again, if we really want to go hard on the time angle, time and accordions have something to say about each other. I mean, so you know, here she's fully creatively unblocked.
(02:19:35) - She's, I think at this point she's composed her new piece. So she's in contact with that Catholic source. And here's of course the grand opening.
(02:20:11) - There's Andrews and Sebastian sitting together, that's sweet. Beautiful concert hall. So her legs were up the whole time so she wouldn't be caught. There he is all the way in the back, I think as she had sort of wanted. And so this is the scene from the trailer which I hadn't seen because I like to come into these films cold. And I've listened to this mauler a couple times and the way this ends like this, yeah that. It's perfect, yeah, it's really great. So she's on full mental breakdown now. Give me some eyes, that's a classic sun god command.
(02:21:44) - Give me some eyes. And so it's... Here it is in the last 15 minutes. We explore another land. The film takes us to New York first. But it's interesting because the cab driver is speaking Tamil, so Amazon tells me I don't know Tamil. So even before she's left America, she's sort of left America. She's sort of engaged in this damage control team. We need a new story. And here she goes home. I love, I love this scene at home. And I'll talk about home and return and all that stuff in a moment.
(02:24:02) - once we get to the Philippines. I know I keep teasing it. I forget how long this last act is. And so there's one more, there's one more version of tar that we haven't seen yet. And it's the child. And so here she is at home with all her boxes and her VHS tapes. Is it the Youth Philharmonic Concerts? I don't know what YPC stands for, but these are real tapes, the one she's about to play here. You can find it on YouTube. I mean, listen to that. We don't need to know all this stuff about Sharpe.
(02:25:53) - Think about how much stuff that Lydia Tar knows, that this movie knows about music. We don't have to know that stuff about music. Music is movement. And she's crying because she knows the truth in it and she knows that she's strayed so far from that truth. She's nodding her head like, I know you're right. I'm sorry. Wearing her medal. So there is some sense in which she's come home. Okay. We're here finally. Oh, my battery's about to go out. Hold on. Okay, battery's plugged in, and I just want to give a quick shout out to the fine folks at Apple for ensuring that QuickTime keeps the recording when there's an issue like the one I just experienced, so that I didn't lose two and a half hours of recording. Let me synchronize with you. Let's see.
(02:28:20) - She's about to say, we've just entered the room with the Filipino family talking amongst themselves, and she says, I'm so sorry. Okay, so hopefully that helps you recalibrate if needed. So this last 20 minutes, this last 10 minutes, where are we at? This is what, you know, this. She's not going back to the Amazon. She's going to the East. She's going to the Philippines. And you know here she's being greeted and treated like a celebrity. Nobody here is challenging her on her sexual abuse.
(02:29:17) - In fact, as we'll see shortly, there are industries built around it. It is also a simpler place, and so when she sees that young girl smiling, for instance, there's a purity here, and this river might as well be one going into the Amazon. And look at her, she wants to take a swim. And this guy's like, not in the river. Crocodiles. They escaped from a Marlon Brando movie, and of course that Marlon Brando movie is...
(02:29:59) - Heart of Darkness. And um... When I read Lord Jim in college, something happened to me. I want to read it again. But um... There have been a few pieces of art in my life that have like uh... kind of dismantled something inside me and Lord Jim was one of the first examples of that. And so as we close out this film, I want to just make the connection between Tar and Lord Jim explicit.
(02:30:43) - So if you don't know the plot of Lord Jim, it's about this sort of idealistic, romantic adventurer Jim who's sort of charismatic and magnetic and has big dreams, a good looking tall white guy. But something happens to him. He's on sort of one of his first adventures. Maybe he's sort of finally gotten promoted to first mate or something like that. And he's on this ship that's carrying slaves I think or immigrants. A lot of people in sort of... Here's the fishbowl scene. And so what is the significance of this scene?
(02:31:31) - Here she's empowered to be a predator. And of course she's going to um... Not... You know, she's confused. I don't think she wanted this. I think she wanted an actual massage. Of course, Muller's fifth, five, comes and looks at her. And I'm sure she's tempted. But the whole thing is maybe too much for her in some way and so she just vomits. There's something, there's some purging happening here. There's some cleansing happening here. That's how I interpret it.
(02:32:14) - And I feel grounded in that interpretation because of the ayahuasca ceremony introduced at the beginning. I do think that there's a redemption story here at the end for Tar. Just as there is for Lord Jim. So Lord Jim makes this horrible mistake and basically jumps ship instead of taking over and steering. And it's this incredible disgrace.
(02:32:42) - And maybe there would have been ways for him to handle it gracefully but he feels the shame of the abandonment and is sort of exiled and ends up going to this fictional land of Patusan where he kind of makes another go at it. Only again to fail when he ends up getting somebody killed. And so even in Patusan he can't quite make it. And I want to read just a section from Lord Jim as we close out. The wonderful movie, hopefully a movie that will be celebrated for many years to come, Tar. It was inconceivable.
(02:33:37) - That was the distinctive quality of the part into which Stein and I had tumbled him unwittingly. Excuse me, unwittingly. All right, let me see if I can get through this because I'm tired a little bit. A little bit. Overserved. So let's get through this. This was the distinctive quality of the part into which Stein and I had tumbled him unwittingly with no other notion than to get him out of the way out of his own way, be it understood. They're talking about sending him to Patusan. That was our main purpose though.
(02:34:09) - I own I might have had another motive which had influenced me a little. I was about to go home for a time and it may be I desired more than I was aware of myself to dispose of him. To dispose of him, you understand, before I left. I was going home and he had come to me from there. This is Marlow speaking. Marlow wants to go back to England after, you know, however many years abroad. He'd come to me from there with his miserable trouble and his shadowy claim like a man panting under a burden in a mist.
(02:34:40) - I cannot say I'd ever seen him distinctly, not even to this day after I had my last view of him. But it seemed to me that the less I understood, the more I was bound to him in the name of that doubt which is the inseparable part of our knowledge. I did not know so much more about myself and then, I repeat, I was going home, to that home distant enough for all its hearthstones to be like one hearthstone by which the humblest of us has the right to sit.
(02:35:11) - We wander in our thousands over the face of the earth, the illustrious and the obscure, earning beyond the seas our fame, our money, or only our crust of bread, but it seems to me that for each of us, going home must be like going to render an account.
(02:35:27) - We return to face our superiors, our kindred, our friends, those whom we obey, and those whom we love, but even they who have neither, the most free, lonely, irresponsible and bereft of ties, even those for whom home holds no dear face, no familiar voice, even they have to meet the spirit that dwells within the land, under its sky, in its air, in its valley, and on its rises, in its fields, in its waters, in its waters. waters, and in its trees, a mute friend, judge, and inspirer.
(02:36:02) - Say what you like to get its joy, to breathe its peace, to face its truth, one must return with a clear conscience. All this may seem to use sheer sentimentalism, and indeed very few of us have the will or the capacity to look consciously under the surface of familiar emotions. There are the girls we love, the men we look up to, the tenderness, the friendships, the opportunities, the pleasures, but the fact remains that you must touch a reward with clean hands, lest it turn to dead leaves, to thorns in your grasp.
(02:36:36) - I think it is the lonely, without a fireside or an affection they may call their own, those who return not to a dwelling, but to the land itself, to meet its disembodied, eternal, and unchangeable spirit. It is those who understand best its severity, its saving power, the grace of its secular right to our fidelity, to our obedience. Yes, few of us understand, but we all feel it, though, and I say all without exception, because those who do not feel do not count.
(02:37:06) - Each blade of grass has its spot on earth whence it draws its life, its strength, and so is man rooted to the land from which he draws his faith together with his life. I don't know how much Jim understood, but I know how he felt. He felt confusedly but powerfully the demand of some such truth or some such illusion. I don't care how you call it, there is so little difference, and the difference means so little. The thing is that in virtue of his feeling he mattered. He would never go home now. Not he, never.
(02:37:38) - Had he been capable of picturesque manifestations, he would have shuddered at the thought and made you shudder too. But he was not of that sort, though he was expressive enough in his way. Before the idea of going home he would grow desperately stiff and immovable, with lowered chin and powdered lips, and with those candid blue eyes of his glowering darkly under a frown, as if before something unbearable, as if before something revolting. There was imagination in that hard skull of his, over which the thick clustering hair fitted like a cap.
(02:38:10) - As to me I have no imagination. I would be more certain about him today if I had, and I do not mean to imply that I figured to myself the spirit of the land uprising above the white cliffs of Dover, to ask me what I, returning with no bones broken, so to speak, had done with my very young brother. I could not make such a mistake. I knew very well he was of those about whom there is no inquiry. I had seen better men go out, disappear, vanish utterly, without provoking a sound of curiosity or sorrow.
(02:38:42) - The spirit of the land, as becomes the ruler of great enterprises, is careless of innumerable lives. Woe to the stragglers! We exist only insofar as we hang together. He had straggled in a way, he had not hung on, but he was aware of it with an intensity that made him touching, just as a man's more intense life makes his death more touching than the death of a tree. I happened to be handy, and I happened to be touched. That's all there is to it. I was concerned as to the way he would go out.
(02:39:15) - It would have hurt me if, for instance, he had taken to drink. The earth is so small that I was afraid of, some day, being waylaid by a bleer-eyed, swollen-faced, besmirched loafer with no soles to his canvas shoes and with a flutter of rags above the elbows who, on the strength of old acquaintance, would ask for a loan of five dollars.
(02:39:36) - You know the awful jaunty bearing of those scarecrows coming to you from a decent past, the rasping, careless voice, the half-averted, impudent glances, those meetings more trying to a man who believes in the solidarity of our lives than the sight of an impenitent deathbed to a priest. That, to tell you the truth, was the only danger I could see for him and for me, but I also mistrusted my want of imagination.
(02:40:01) - It might even come to something worse. In some way it was beyond my powers of fancy to foresee. He wouldn't let me forget how imaginative he was, and your imaginative people swing farther in any direction, as if given a longer scope of cable in the uneasy anchorage of life. They do. They take to drink, too. It may be I was belittling him by such a fear. How could I tell? Even Stein could say no more than he was a romantic. I only knew he was one of us. And what business had he to be romantic?
(02:40:32) - I'm telling you so much about my own instinctive feelings and bemused reflections because there remains so little to be told of him. He existed for me, and after all it is only through me that he exists for you. I've led him out by the hand. I've paraded him before you. Were my commonplace fears unjust? I won't say. Not even now. You may be able to tell better since the proverb has it that the onlookers see most of the game. At any rate, they were superfluous. He did not go out. Not at all.
(02:41:04) - On the contrary, he came on wonderfully, came on straight as a die and in excellent form, which showed that he could stay as well as spurt. I ought to be delighted, for it is a victory in which I had taken my part, but I am not so pleased as I would have expected to be. I ask myself whether his rush had really carried him out of that mist in which he loomed interesting, if not very big, with floating outlines, a straggler yearning inconsolably for his humble place in the ranks. And besides, the last word is not said, probably shall never be said.
(02:41:37) - Are not our lives too short for that full utterance which through all our stammerings is of course our only and abiding intention? I have given up expecting those last words whose ring, if they could only be pronounced, would shake both heaven and earth. There is never time to say our last word, the last word of our love, of our desire, faith, remorse, submissions, revolt. The heaven and the earth must not be shaken, I suppose, at least not by us who know so many truths about either. My last words about Jim shall be few.
(02:42:13) - I affirm he had achieved greatness, but the thing would be dwarfed in the telling, or rather in the hearing. Frankly, it is not my words that I mistrust, but your minds. I could be eloquent were I not afraid you fellows had starved your imaginations to feed your bodies. I do not mean to be offensive. It is respectable to have no illusions, and safe, and profitable, and dull.
(02:42:38) - Yet you too, in your time, must have known the intensity of life, that light of glamour created in the shock of trifles, as amazing as the glow of sparks struck from a cold stone, and as short-lived, alas. I am going to close it there. I want to thank you for watching tar with me. And I hope that this brings some new illumination and some new questions to your experience of the film.