On Thursday October 12, 2023, the much anticipated Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour hit theaters. The movie was slated to begin showings that Friday, but Taylor Swift herself announced on Instagram that due to unprecedented demand, the opening day was being pushed up. Unsurprisingly, the picture raked in $97 million opening weekend and became the highest grossing domestic concert film ever. Swift is larger than life, and her nearly four hour long live stadium show is a spectacle that captivates the screen. The question is: did the taped Los Angeles footage do the tour justice, and what missed the mark? As one of Awards Radar’s resident Swifties who attended the tour (Metlife Stadium night one) as well as the film, I’m here to help. Joey reviewed it here, and was a big fan, but this is another look.
The Eras Tour film opens perfectly, just as the show does. So much so, that tears were inspired by the entrance and first look of Taylor. That’s the best part: the movie as a whole is just a documentation of the spectacle that is the show, and not the concert mixed with other miscellaneous documentary footage or behind the scenes. This way, the picture doubles as a way for many scorn fans who could not attend the live performance to see it and be a part of the hype. Swift has done this before with other tours that can be found streaming, with The Reputation Stadium Tour on Netflix being one of the more beautifully shot tours. In fact, the Eras film matches the same style and artful angles as the Reputation film, letting fans see both wide drone shots and intimate close ups.
Building off of this, one aspect of the film that every fan or concert goer can agree on is that watching the show this way helps you fully absorb every aspect of the show. For example, those that watched the show from either behind the stage or on the floor may have missed a lot of elements, such as the digital imagery on the stage and the back wall. So even if you attended the live show, there are likely still surprises in store for you with the on-screen version.
Naturally, as the runtime of the movie is less than that of the live show, a few songs were not shown and some blank spaces were left. Some choices of what to remove were surprising, while others were understandable. Then again, this depends on who’s watching and what they love about Swift’s music, as her genres and lyricism are both so diverse. Part of me wants to state my disappointment at some selections being removed, but another part of me fully grasps how a three and a half hour long concert is crazy, but a significant amount more captivating than a movie. To make the Eras Tour picture that length may have lost some, and may have felt too long for a trip to the movie theater. Luckily, because it is 2023, every song and performance from the tour can be found online, as well as the setlists, so those that only see the film and want the full experience can search for the missing spots afterwards. Is it the same? No, but it doesn’t spur on any bad blood for the movie as a whole.
At each and every stop on the Eras tour, Swift has an acoustic set in which she picks two songs that are not on the setlist to perform for her fans. The songs change each and every night, and the rules are simple: if she messes up lyrics, she has to perform it at another show to do the song justice, and she can perform songs from her latest album Midnights as many times as she wants. So with her vast catalogue of beloved songs, it’s hard to begin to wonder how Swift chose the songs she did. Ultimately, the songs that were chosen shone a light on both her early career as well as her more recent works. Yes, there are other songs that others could have wished for, but with these selections, both old and new fans were given something to be excited about. Not to mention that Swift chose one of her more popular cult classic type songs from her latest album as one of the surprise songs.
The Swiftie community embraced the art of crafting handmade friendship bracelets and trading them at the live shows. On a smaller scale, this carries over to the movie experience. Truth be told, the showing I attended was not fully sold out and did not involve trading bracelets with fellow viewers, but social media is flooded with fans interacting in this way. Even if other audience members aren’t comfortable becoming friendly with one another, AMC has set up bracelet trading between customers and staff, so that opportunity is not lost. I personally traded a You Need to Calm Down bracelet I had been given at the Eras tour for a purple and red beaded AMC bracelet. The concert film also includes nods to this bracelet trading ritual in the end credits.
What touched my heart most about my experience attending the Eras Tour movie was seeing different girls and women beaming while singing along with their favorite songs. Notably observing girlhood at its finest as younger fans were dancing around with reckless abandon. That period in life before you have succumbed to societal pressures as a woman and can enjoy your body and just being who you are is so short. To see Taylor be part of this period for these girls is unlike anything else. Taylor is a pillar for kindness and loving yourself, and knowing that this lesson is connecting with the newer generations renews my hope as a 90’s kid for growing up as a female this day in age.
In summary: should you see the Eras tour in theaters and sing your heart out along with Taylor Swift and a room full of generations of fans for nearly three hours? I wish you would.