Early in “Tár” there is a shot of a Wikipedia entry being edited by unseen hands. Whose hands? That question will turn out to be relevant to the plot, but for the moment it is overwhelmed by the mystique of the page’s subject, who is also the protagonist of Todd Field’s cruelly elegant, elegantly cruel new film.

Her name is Lydia Tár, and in the world Field has imagined — one that exists at an oblique angle to our own — it’s a household name. She is introduced to us by the New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, humbly playing himself as he interviews Lydia, regally played by Cate Blanchett, on a Manhattan stage. Gopnik’s introductory remarks provide a Wikipedia-style summary with a bit of Talk of the Town filigree, establishing that this is a person who surely needs no introduction.

Lydia’s résumé is a litany of meritocratic glory and upper-middlebrow glitter so lustrous as to verge on satire. She’s a conductor and composer — a maestro — who claims Leonard Bernstein as her mentor and whose career has been a steady ascent through the great orchestras of Cleveland, Boston and New York to her current perch at the Berlin Philharmonic. She has a Harvard Ph.D. and belongs to the highly exclusive EGOT club, having won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. She has recorded all of Mahler’s symphonies but one, which is coming soon, as is a book, “Tár on Tár,” that will surely be a best seller.

How did she do it? If Lydia Tár were a real person, “Tár” might take the conventional musical biopic route, tracing a path from modest beginnings through hard work and lucky breaks, adversity and triumph. That would be a remarkable story, given that in the real world vanishingly few major orchestras have been led by women. (Nathalie Stutzmann, recently installed as musical director of the Atlanta Symphony, is currently the only one in America, as Marin Alsop was until she stepped down from the Baltimore Symphony last year.)

Like “Late Night,” the 2019 movie which cast Emma Thompson as a powerful network television talk-show host, “Tár” doesn’t so much smash a glass ceiling as dissolve it by creative fiat. Lydia’s rise is not what we are here to see. She has been installed at the pinnacle of her profession so that we may witness her fall.