An award-winning conductor has slammed Cate Blanchett’s new Oscar-winning film, saying she believes it is an “obnoxious” portrayal of a life similar to her own.
Marin Alsop, 66, has slammed Tár directing Todd Field, which portrays the life of narcissistic conductor and composer Lydia Tár. Blanchett plays the title character, which is fictional, but after reading about the film, Marin claims there are “superficial aspects” about the protagonist that she recognized from her own life.
She claimed the film’s play on “pseudo-reality” was “a bit dangerous,” adding that viewers may not be able to tell the difference between true portrayals and fictional aspects.
Her criticism follows confusion over the film’s true basis after the production company clarified that its protagonist, Lydia Tár, was a fictional character (although she briefly had her own Wikipedia page).
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Alsop criticized the portrayal of Tár as an “untouchable genius” and a narcissist who berates and humiliates those around her.
In one scene, Blanchett’s character taunts a young male student with whom she disagrees, and throughout the film uses her sexuality to manipulate and control her assistant.
For the real conductor, her rise through the ranks was not easy and took a lot of hard work – and to this day she remains one of the few female conductors of top orchestras around the world.
World-renowned conductor Marin Alsop (pictured) has criticized Blanchett’s anti-hero character for living up to “dangerous” stereotypes about conductors and women in leadership positions
Cate Blanchett (pictured) plays conductor, composer and author Lydia Tár in a new psychological thriller
American-born Alsop was the first woman to receive the Koussevitzky Prize for conducting and was the first person to be awarded the MacArthur Fellowship.
She currently serves as Music Director Laureate of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Principal Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and studied at Yale University and the Julliard School of Music.
In the recent interview, Alsop revealed how misogyny had dogged her throughout her career as she rose through the ranks of the music world.
Reflecting on her struggle to succeed as a woman in a male-dominated industry, Alsop described herself as an “optimist” but also a “realist”.
She said, “I’ve seen progress and then regression many, many times.”
In 2002 she founded her own scholarship for conductors, the Taki Alsop program.
Cate Blanchett (pictured) plays a controlling, abusive, exploitative narcissist-antihero in the new film
According to New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe, Blanchett’s Tár is “clearly” based in part on Alsop (pictured).
“My original motivation was probably to try and level the playing field a bit. But it’s much more about being a resource for each other, a community,” she said, adding that it’s become something of a “network.”
Alsop’s work in creating a supportive community of women within the space is perhaps why she is so angry at Blanchett’s portrayal of a female conductor in Tár.
The character of Lydia Tár rejects the idea of all-female scholarships, arguing that they are not needed in the age of gender equality.
She said the filmmakers were given the opportunity to portray a woman in a role they rarely take on in real life and instead of making her inspirational, she accused them of making her an “abuser”.
The addition of the character of Lydia Tár was “heartbreaking”, she argued it could lead people to question women’s suitability for leadership positions in society.
Although the film stars a fictional character, Alsop’s name is reportedly mentioned within the first 30 minutes – and New York Times critic Zachary Woolfe has claimed that the film is “clearly” based on the real conductor.
Another source of confusion stems from the fact that the film was shot in a documentary/drama style and features several musicians acting as themselves.
Alsop noted several similarities between her and Tár, including that they were both protégés of Leonard Bernstein, are both lesbians, and both teach at music conservatories.
However, Alsop insists that she was not involved in the production of Tár.
When Alsop first heard about the film, she said she had concerns about the way the conductor was portrayed.
“When I saw it, I wasn’t worried anymore, I was offended: I was offended as a woman, I was offended as a conductor, I was offended as a lesbian,” she said.
- Tár is in cinemas from Friday 13th January.
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