Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour
Updated: Nov 14
Swift's concert film delivers one of the cinematic experiences of the year
Taylor Swift has become not only a cultural phenomenon, but true force of nature, taking the world by storm with her recent billion-dollar grossing tour. Given her impressive businesswoman acumen, it was no surprise to see her capitalize on the emptying film release schedule, from Hollywood strikes, to release a concert film. The film, unusually distributed directly through movie theaters instead of traditional studios, is set to be a cultural earthquake.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour (2023) is a filmed version of Swift’s August concert in Los Angeles. The Eras Tour, instead of focusing on the songs from a singular recent album, takes on seventeen years of Swift’s music for a three-and-a-half-hour retrospective of her musical career.
Similar to the recent “Barbenheimer” cultural moment, where filmgoers paired Barbie (2023) with Oppenheimer (2023), The Eras Tour is an experience to share. Theaters are encouraging a more interactive experience than usual, with dancing in the aisles, sing-alongs, and selfies allowed. While the first hour or so will feature enthusiastic sit-down sing alongs, by the final hour and the “1989” album set, I found myself jumping along with the rest of the theater in a communal experience akin only to the gladiatorial fervor of Avengers: Endgame (2019). Tears were shed, scream-singing featured, and an overall barrage of style and emotion set on display.
Not many would have pegged Swift to be one of the saviors of the decadent movie-going business, post-Covid. The Eras Tour, however, proves to be the perfect antidote to bring people back to theaters in droves. It is a film experience that is enhanced by sharing it with other strangers in a concert-like atmosphere and enjoying the quality sound systems and image infrastructure.
The Eras Tour, however, is a mesmerizing show in and of itself, aside from the communality around it. The distinct styles and tones attached to each album set allows Swift and her technical directors to come up with inventive uses of the screen-tiled stage, Swift’s costumes, and the army of talented background dancers.
Sam Wrench directs, having previously helmed Billie Eilish Live at the O2 (2023) concert film. Wrench does well to capture the concert form, cutting between Swift and fan reactions, setting his pace and cinematography to the songs. However, Wrench also demonstrates a rather impatient editing style, with shots averaging one or two seconds before cutting away. Viewers, thus, don’t get chances to drink in specific uses of the stage or choreographed dances before Wrench is quickly cutting away.
In the end, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour captures the magical essence of the record-breaking musical tour, delivering a theatrical experience unlike many in recent years. The filmed version captures the colorful and varied repertoire of Swift’s music library, with the technical directors delivering a stream of visuals and choreography that make the long runtime fly by. Sadly, you aren’t able to appreciate some of the greater technical achievements due to Wrench’s jittery editing, but the creative choice doesn’t take away from a cinematic experience you will remember all too well.