Martin Scorsese: The ‘Clouds Lifted‘ on Cinema’s ‘Dark Days’ After I Watched ’Tár’

Martin Scorsese made a surprise virtual appearance at the 2023 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, where he presented “Tár” director Todd Field with the best feature award. Scorsese, who directed “Tár” actor Cate Blanchett to an Oscar in “The Aviator,” lauded Field’s drama as “a real high wire act” and said the film lifted the clouds on the “dark days” that cinema is currently facing.

“For so long now, so many of us see films that pretty much let us know where they’re going,” Scorsese said. “I mean, they take us by the hand and, even if it’s disturbing at times, sort of comfort us along the way that it will be all okay by the end. Now this is insidious, as one can get lulled into this and ultimately get used to it, leading those of us who’ve experienced cinema in the past — as much more than that— to become despairing of the future of the art form, especially for younger generations. But that’s on dark days.

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Scorsese continued, “The clouds lifted when I experienced Todd’s film, ‘Tár.’ What you’ve done, Todd –– is that the very fabric of the movie you created doesn’t allow this. All the aspects of cinema and the film that you’ve used, attest to this. The shift in locations for example, the shift in locations alone do what cinema does best, which is to reduce space and time to what they are, which is nothing.”

“Tár” stars Blanchett as a world-renowned maestro whose personal life and professional career become upended by her toxic behavior. Blanchett won the best actress prize at the Venice Film Festival and is widely expected to land an Oscar nomination, as is the film for best picture and Field for best director.

“What you’ve done, Todd — it’s a real high wire act,” Scorsese added. “All of this is conveyed through a Masterful Mise-en-scène, as controlled, precise, dangerous, precipitous angles and edges geometrically kind of chiseled into a wonderful 2:3:5 aspect ratio of frame compositions. The limits of the frame itself, and the provocation of measured long takes all reflecting the brutal architecture of her soul — Tár’s soul.”

Field and Blanchett joined forces recently for Variety’s first cover story of 2023. Blanchett said during the interview, “I think ‘Tár’ speaks to a moment in a woman’s life when she is moving inexorably, as we all are, towards death, and we try to outrun that very thing — we try to outrun the unpalatable sides of ourselves. We try to hide.”

Scorsese often finds a way to publicly champion the films he loves most in a given year. “Tár” joins Ti West’s horror movie “Pearl” as one of two 2022 titles the Oscar-winning filmmaker has issued a statement of praise for. Back in September, he said “Pearl” was “so deeply disturbing” that he had trouble sleeping afterwards.

“‘Pearl’ makes for a wild, mesmerizing, deeply — and I mean deeply — disturbing 102 minutes,” Scorsese wrote in a statement. “West and his muse and creative partner Mia Goth really know how to toy with their audience… before they plunge the knife into our chests and start twisting.”

“Tár” is now playing in theaters.

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