By: Staff Writer Trisha Parikh
On October 13, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour went from stadiums to theaters in an energetic and long-awaited concert film. Directed by Sam Wrench, the movie features the multi-genre singer’s three-hour-long performance at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA. Despite lacking some fan-favorite concert elements, the film allowed Swifties to relive their Eras Tour experience with singing, dancing, and beloved fan traditions.
The movie, announced after the first leg of Swift’s tour, resulted in more than $100 million in global pre-sales, setting AMC Theatres’ record for highest ticket sales in a day as the second global movie mega-event of the year after the Barbie–Oppenheimer opening weekend. These historic sales come as no shock after the high economic activity the Eras Tour accomplished following the coronavirus pandemic. AMC Theatres announced multiple rule-adjustments and festivities regarding the film, such as allowing fans to sing, dance, and record while the movie plays, selling merch such as Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour reusable popcorn buckets, and giving away free movie posters to attendees.
Similar to the concert, the film begins with a countdown on a large gray clock, until Swift appears on screen singing “Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince” from her album Lover. The movie depicts Swift taking a journey through the ten eras, or albums, of her musical career, with short speeches about her appreciation for her fans in between. The Eras Tour live concert included some of Swift’s biggest hits, but failed to include songs from her first album, Taylor Swift, and only included two songs from the cherished Speak Now album. While Swifties hoped more songs from those albums would be incorporated in the film, solely “Our Song” from her first album is performed as an acoustic melody during the “surprise song” section. This section is one in which Swift plays two songs that aren’t on the setlist each night of her tour. “You’re on Your Own, Kid” from Midnights is performed as the second surprise song on piano. This is a bright choice for the film as it includes the lyrics “So make the friendship bracelets,” which inspired the charming friendship bracelet tradition. With cameras following Swift’s every move on stage, viewers are able to see elements of the show they wouldn’t be able to see if they sat at a concert venue. The angles chosen provide an especially unique view at her viral “Bejeweled” dance and the impressive standing ovation after “champagne problems.”
Alongside the cinematography, the film’s setlist involves 40 of Swift’s most popular songs performed to the movie’s added visual elements as well as the concert’s emotional dances, allowing the audience to visualize the songs the way Swift intended. During her reputation era, a large 3D snake slithers around the stage, adding a clever dramatic component to lead up to her darkest album. Animated letters also appear on screen to indicate the smooth transitions between the musical eras. Meanwhile, for songs in folklore and evermore, performers act in scenes to accompany the songs’ lyrics. In “tolerate it,” dancers argue across a dinner table. Similarly, in “the last great american dynasty,” dancers dress in ballgowns as elite partygoers spending the money of a recently-widowed wife, prompting tears and cheers alike from the moviegoers.
Although the pros outweigh the cons, Swifties who looked forward to the film as an alternative to the concert were left disappointed when some of Swift’s most popular songs were cut from the movie. In an effort to shorten the film, fan favorites such as the adored “Wildest Dreams,” “cardigan,” and “Long Live” never appeared on the big screen. The audience sighed audibly as eras transitioned and left these hit tracks behind. Nevertheless, Swifties in the theater kept concert traditions alive. Fans decked out in Eras Tour attire traded friendship bracelets, chanted the iconic “You forgive, you forget, but you never let it go” from “Bad Blood” and clapped the “You Belong With Me” double clap as the lyrics they held so near to their hearts were sung aloud.
Despite its minor shortcomings, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is an innovative way to honor the unforgettable concert experiences fans had during the past year. Its 3D effects and performances make up for its lack of fan favorites by allowing loyal fans to experience the renowned concert once again and as many times as they please.
Graphics by: NPR, hips.hearstapps & Made in PGH.