March 3, 2024

Film Review: Taylor Swift - The Eras Tour

5 Stars
By Joseph Beyer | Nov. 11, 2023

If any artist of our time symbolizes a quest for self-control and dominion of her own career, it’s Taylor Swift. She’s not only talented and smart—she doesn’t get pushed around. Having taken on music streamer Spotify and concert service Ticketmaster, now she’s produced the greatest touring spectacle of the ages with her own independent team.

Undeniably the hottest concert ticket of the year, the Eras Tour featured almost three astonishing nonstop hours of what can only be called a rock diary combined with Circus Maximus scale modern opera. With a chorus of musicians and dancers, surreal costumes, impossible stagecraft, and lighting design that could probably be seen from space as 70,000 fans wearing illuminated bracelets jam out to every lyric, the tour continues internationally through 2024 across five continents for those jetsetters determined to see it IRL.

More than just her greatest hits remastered, the concert is a sort of fluid love affair between Swift and the fiercely loyal fandom who speak her language, know her inside and out, and crave her energy as a way of understanding their own.

I got to see the tour in person in Detroit and thought I would never again experience something like that in my life. But Swift has given us a remarkable chance to experience the magic once more with a one-of-a-kind musical documentary. For someone who’s now sampled both, the film is almost more mesmerizing to this critic in revealing a close-up narrative I missed in the live version, even with video screens over 100 feet tall. Both versions were sublime.

When it came to making and releasing her own coveted film version of the Eras Tour, Swift was going to break more rules. Snubbing the Hollywood system, Swift’s team not only financed the film (which is almost exactly as long as the real concerts were) but also self-distributed the project in an exclusive partnership with AMC Theaters. It opened on over 38,000 screens in the U.S. simultaneously. Like everything she touches, it broke records and smashed expectations. The film itself has already grossed over $1 billion worldwide, adding to the $4.5 billion the tour has brought in.

Notably starting without the usual backstage fanfare but instead launching immediately into the Eras Tour experience, the film rewards fans right away with the music and storytelling. It’s deserving of the big screen in its delicate direction by Sam Wrench, who shot the footage over three sold-out concerts at Los Angeles’ SoFi Stadium. The film reveals all the mechanics you might see from the front row in a unique twist that enhances the intimacy.

The director of previous concert films for Billie Eilish and Lizzo, Wrench weaves together a faithful representation of the monumental feeling of the tour stops. Like they are at the concerts, fans are roaring into the theaters ready for something communal: dressing in the Swift “era” that best represents them, clapping and chanting at all the secret spots, and exchanging friendship bracelets. When I picked up my ticket opening weekend, our local AMC manager had a dozen of them on his wrist as he looked, stunned, across the lobby of fans still waiting to get in.

If it feels like one of those nights, you can see the Eras Tour film still playing here in Traverse City. (Note: It won’t likely be available on streaming until the end of January 2024 if reports of the contract terms are true.) According to the AMC website, it’s playing three nights a week for a price of approximately $20 for adults, $13 for each of the teenage fans in tow.

Photo by Getty Images

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