Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is as electrifying as it is intimate. It captures Taylor Swift’s crowning achievement with first-class quality in every frame.
The opening song on Taylor Swift’s 2020 album folklore, “the 1,” contains a lyric that has haunted me since I first heard it: “you know, the greatest films of all time were never made.” As a cinephile and critic, this thought piques my curiosity about what films have been lost in bygone eras, and about what films have yet to be made. In the three years since she penned those lyrics, Taylor Swift decided to produce one of the most captivating and well-made concert films of all time. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour documents Swift’s performance at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles, California, the final stop on the first leg of the tour.
Before the Eras Tour made it to the silver screen—and became the highest-grossing box office weekend for a concert film—Taylor Swift was giving a surprisingly cinematic concert performance. The film shows that she’s not standing in one spot with a guitar the entire time. The second song, “The Man,” introduces viewers to the first intricate stage design of the three-hour concert: a multi-level office setting, occupied by backup vocalists and dancers following an entrancing Taylor Swift. Every era is introduced by the album’s title on the massive screen—a sort of title card for the cinematic evening—illuminating incredible sets. My personal favorites are from folklore and evermore: cloaks and lanterns, a moss-covered piano, and a woodsy house visualize the fantastical elements of the albums. So too, many songs (such as “tolerate it”) included dramatization, as if the crowd was watching the live filming of Swift’s next music video.
Concert films often seek to capture a small moment in time, a single night and an electrifying musical performance. Whether in the newly restored Stop Making Sense (1984) or in Justin Bieber’s Never Say Never (2011), the goal is capturing good music and a powerful cultural moment. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour surely has these elements, but flies far beyond them: it captures 17 years of music spanning multiple subgenres and styles, playing everything from cultural staples (like “22” and “Shake It Off”) to intimate deep cuts (like the 10-minute “All Too Well” and “champagne problems”).
The Eras Tour is the second-highest grossing tour of all time—the highest by a female artist—and the concert film is the Eras Tour for the rest of us. Those who didn’t get the chance to go to the concert in person have unique access to the same performance, up close and personal. With high-quality camera work and sound editing, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is also a deeper look into Swift’s performance that concert attendees may not have seen from their seats. It invites Swifties to live (or relive) the Eras experience in a new way.
Watching The Eras Tour was one of my most unique moviegoing experiences: nearly every trailer before the film unabashedly included Taylor Swift’s music, or even a direct message to the audience. (The Trolls Band Together trailer started with a graphic that said, “Hey Swifties!”) Sold-out theaters across the world hosted Swifties dressed up as if they were going to the concert in person, wearing friendship bracelets—my wife lent me some to wear—and standing up to sing their favorite tunes at the top of their lungs. Many of Swift’s performances ended with applause and cheering from the audience. In Taylor Swift’s cinema, moviegoing etiquette is left at the doors.
There is something freeing about giving yourself to the performance of a pop music juggernaut. There is no pressure to sit still or even stay off your phone, no embarrassment in sing-screaming your favorite Swift lyrics. What Taylor Swift has done in the Eras Tour translates directly to the Eras Tour concert film: everyone is welcome, as themselves, to enjoy a fun and often emotional night of music and dancing.
In typical Taylor Swift fashion, she has brought her tour into the cinema world and dazzled everyone. Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is as electrifying as it is intimate, with massive stage designs and lighthearted moments throughout. The concert film adequately captures Taylor Swift’s crowning achievement with first-class quality in every frame.
Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour is out now globally in theaters.