Taylor Swift is the biggest pop star in the world, and her Eras Tour is one of the most successful music business ventures of all time. Now, thanks to the concert film Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, directed by Sam Wrench, this moment is now immortalized within the film industry as well. Over the course of Swift’s trio of shows in Inglewood, California in August, filming for The Eras Tour movie took place, after special permission was granted for the production in the midst of the SAG-AFTRA strike.
For readers unfamiliar with the general concept of Swift’s tour, she takes you on an epic journey of more than 40 songs across her ever-evolving musical body of work, which stretches 10 albums. Speaking personally, I was fortunate enough to see one of her concerts live, on May 6 in Nashville, Tennessee. It was an experience that will remain with me for as long as I live. However, when it comes to a production of this magnitude, the boundless attention to detail can be appreciated on an even deeper level when it is chronicled in cinematic form. There is only so much the naked eye can see from a distance in a stadium filled with tens of thousands of people. But, when a show like this is captured on film, everything is right there for you to absorb. You are enveloped by the profile shots of Swift at the center of a sea of 70,000 fans screaming her name. One can see that the intricacies of the musical narrative are structured as beautifully as the sets, costumes, and choreography. In order to elicit peak emotional impact from a concert film, the precision of the artist’s performance has to be paralleled by camerawork that is just as meticulous. And, beyond that, the challenge of mining hours of footage from dozens of camera angles – and piecing it together into a narrative that is not only coherent, but cinematically engaging and cathartic – is a feat that is not to be taken lightly.
If there is a singular moment in The Eras Tour that represents the apex of both Taylor Swift as an artist and the success of the concert film itself, it is the transition from Evermore into Reputation. These two eras of Swift’s discography are sonically, visually, and thematically in stark contrast to each other. Yet, they are strategically placed back-to-back as to fully exhibit her versatility as a songwriter and performer. In the vast void of social media, one may occasionally stumble across a criticism of Swift which says something to the effect of, “Well, all of her songs sound the same.” Art always has been, and always will be, a subjective entity – and no artist is above criticism. With that being said, I think it would be fairly difficult for someone to mistake “Tolerate It” and “…Ready For It” as the same song.
Handily surpassing movies from Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, and One Direction as the most financially successful concert film of all time, The Eras Tour Film is the ultimate convergence of filmmaking talent behind the scenes and musical talent in the spotlight. Swift herself once said, “You know the greatest films of all time were never made.” But her fans may disagree.