Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Reel Thoughts: ‘Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour’ is a ‘magnetic force of a’ movie

Illustration by June Woo
Taylor Swift’s nearly three-hour “Eras Tour” film is another one for the songbooks.

For those who didn’t make it out of the Ticketmaster battle with spoils, the concert film “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” offers either a dazzling spectacle or reductive consolation –– depending on who you ask.

The multi-talented pop star needs no introduction — just look at the stats. Taylor Swift swept the box office with the highest-ever concert film opening, eventually reaching an estimated $129.8 million (and counting). But it’s nothing compared to the $4.1 billion projected revenue from the tour itself.

“Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” is a concert documentary filmed over the last leg of the U.S. Eras Tour at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in August. At a runtime of two hours and 45 minutes, the movie is a near exact depiction of the live version, with just a few songs cut. Whether the film serves as an immersive, $19.89 copy of the real performance varies by who you talk to.

A large part of the film’s success comes from its perfect timing, catching audiences at the peak of the Taylor Swift craze. From her rumored, public relationship with Travis Kelce to the highly-anticipated release of “1989 (Taylor’s Version) on Oct. 27,” Swift finds herself in every sector of news and entertainment right now, including movie theaters.

But, fans are split on the vibe for the film. Swift herself designed the film to be specifically for the theater, rather than a streaming experience.. In the film’s announcement on social media, she wrote, “Eras attire, friendship bracelets, singing and dancing encouraged.”

Lots of fans followed faithfully. Some screenings have seen people out of their seats, holding hands in a circle, waltzing across the rows, while others are typical cinema settings, save a few rounds of scattered applause and whisper-singing.

But, the grass is always greener on the other side. In lively theaters, people are frustrated with the raucous chaos of a surrogate concert. In still cinemas, people find that the film falls short of the exciting grandeur they were promised. It seems like no one show can satisfy them all.

Regardless, the film creates a unique experience. The cameras provide an unseen look into the show, illuminating little details about the performance, staging and outfits that the average concert-goer would never catch.

There’s her playful eye roll during “Love Story,” a jaded nod at her youthful fairytale dreams and a close-up view of “tolerate it” that cements the dinner scene narrative in a gut-wrenching perspective.

The stage is a character in its own right, displayed in stunning pageantry through a camera lens. Smoky, stately trees shoot up seemingly out of nowhere in the “evermore” sequence, chased by iridescent black snakes transcending dimension and motion during “Reputation.” The enchantment of the “Lover” and “Speak Now” segments were compounded by Swift’s stunning costuming, from a candy-light leotard bespeckled with precious gems to a dramatic white gown shaped like a pastry.

The film’s take on the two acoustic “surprise” songs Swift performs with every tour date comes in a pairing that spans nearly 20 years: debut sweetheart “Our Song” and retrospective recent release “You’re On Your Own, Kid.” It, like the ‘Eras’ venture as a whole, is an homage to the growth of Swift and her fans right alongside her.

While there are sporadic odd shots throughout the film, the film’s imperfections are easily forgotten by the fierce magnetism Swift commands — one that cuts through the screen. Despite the etiquette debate, “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” carves a special space for catharsis and connection between strangers, an all-out extravaganza in the dark.

Maybe it’s a masterpiece, maybe it’s nothing new, but Swift mania has overtaken cinema, and there’s no anticipating what comes next.

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Related Stories:
Liner Notes: Taylor Swift’s ‘Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)’ is the best thing that’s ever been mine
Liner Notes: Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour: Are fans “Ready For It?”
Liner Notes: Taylor Swift meets us at midnight with “Midnights”

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