Features and Columns · Movies

Time is the Thing: Authority, Control, and the Key Theme of ‘TÁR’

The past has a way of catching up with everyone. Even Lydia Tár.
Tár Time Theme
By  · Published on April 28th, 2023

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores the theme of time in Todd Field’s Tár.

If you thought that everyone would quit talking’ Tár just because Oscar season has come to an end, think again. We checked the rule book, and apparently, if something loses, that means campaign fever gets to persist in perpetuity. Huge news for Tár-nation.

Directed by Todd Field —  you know, the jazz guy who inadvertently sends Tom Cruise to the sex cult mansion in Eyes Wide Shut — Tár follows the fall from grace of its titular fictional conductor/composer (Cate Blanchett). While Field’s masterfully tense character study has its fingers in a number of different thematic pies, both the film and Lydia share the same central concern: time.

Time is something that powerful, controlling people (like Tár herself) want to dominate but never can. And when you’re as constructed and artificial as someone like Tár, it’s only a matter of (say it with me) time before the other shoe drops. Time heals all wounds, but it also exposes all sins. This is bad news if you’re the kind of person willing to do whatever it takes to carve out a space for yourself at the top.

The video essay below doesn’t contain any major story spoilers, but it will be more edifying if you’ve already seen Field’s film (which you should, it’s great, and you should make time for it).

Watch “Tár on Time”

Who made this?

This video essay about the theme of time in Tár is by Maggie Mae Fish, a Los Angeles-based comedian, actress, and culture critic who releases short films and video essays on her YouTube account. Her work has been featured on College Humor, Screen Junkies, and JASH. And she was also a former lead actor and writer at Cracked.com. Follow Fish on Twitter here.

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Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.