‘TAR’ production designer and set decorator on capturing the 3 stages of ‘monumental’ title character [Exclusive Video Interview]

“She’s such a monumental character. She’s so big as a character and so complex. So it was quite a challenge to really visually grasp her,” says production designer Marco Bittner Rosser about his work on “TÁR,” which tells the story of a world-renowned conductor (played by Cate Blanchett) who faces allegations of misconduct. We talked to Rosser and set decorator Ernestine Hipper about the film. Watch our exclusive video interview above.

Lydia Tár’s personal spaces were devised in three stages: “You have Tár’s childhood. You have Tár’s first arrival in Berlin, her secret apartment, which is still kept as a cozy spot to step away. And then you see her climbing up, and then you have her in her beautiful penthouse,” explains Hipper. “Being a famous conductor now, her surrounding has to show that she’s made it.”

Among the most important locations was the apartment that Lydia shares with her wife Sharon (Nina Hoss). “We set it in a brutalist concrete space, which is very overpowering in scale,” Rosser describes. “It was a long process of finally ending up with that brutalist architectural space that almost doesn’t read like an apartment but is interpreted as an apartment. And that gave her something that’s a little bit otherworldly, which we felt was the right choice for her.”

Then there’s the film’s crucial orchestra rehearsal space, which was shot in five different locations. “It all had to match,” Hipper remembers. “So Marco shot parts on the real stage and the real halls, and then Marco created exactly the same hallways on location,” with additional sets built for the offices. For Hipper, “it was more going into characters” and conveying “what [writer-director Todd Field] wanted to show or what he wanted Tár to be … It was lovely, you know, creating those characters and finding the bits and pieces that would match.”

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