Taylor Swift’s lyricism, attention to detail, and artistic vision are second to none. When I (finally) sat down to watch “All Too Well: Short Film,” I had no doubt that she would weave in expertly crafted references to previous albums and her journey as an artist. But what I did not anticipate was the depth of her talents as a visual storyteller on top of her already remarkable ability to craft a deeply thoughtful experience with just her lyrics.
As I watched the video, I recorded my initial thoughts, live tweet style. And here they are– the observations of an untrained eye for film and longtime Taylor Swift fan.
0:20 – This feels more like a movie than a music video than I’d expected… even though I knew it was going to be a short film.
0:30 – She looks SO young… is it possible this is how people saw Taylor at that time?
0:36 – The aesthetic almost feels like a more summery version of Folklore.
0:52 – No makeup at all on the girl! Interesting.
1:00 – The red scarf!! For some reason, I’d always pictured “your sister’s house” being more like a family dinner situation, where the sister was there too.
1:17 – “Our Song” vibes on the drive… one-hand feel on the steering wheel.
2:13 – Just noticed that it’s not full screen, almost feels like I’m looking through a camera.
2:50 – She’s wearing makeup here, it almost seems like it’s a facade for when she’s in public or with his people.
2:57 – Tossing the car keys was a much less lighthearted moment than I’d envisioned when I first heard the lyric.
3:25 – First signs of his temper, kinda scary. Also crazy how he’s able to immediately draw her back in.
4:10 – Gas. Lighting.
5:00 – During the whole kitchen scene, he’s swearing a ton and she isn’t at all. Playing into the fact that she’s almost like a child compared to him.
6:00 – Immediately able to draw her back in but with SUCH a half-apology. So manipulative.
8:45 – Again wearing makeup in public when she feels out of place.
9:20 – …And now she’s back in her own environment with her dad and not wearing it again.
10:55 – The red glow of the room when they’re dancing….
11:25 – “Thirteen Years Gone” — Taylor’s lucky number!
12:00 – Fully did not know Taylor was gonna be in this…. But recognized her immediately from the updo and WOW the red hair.
12:10 – She’s wearing makeup now! But much more subtle, like she’s come into her own and found what she truly likes.
12:30 – Love that it ends with her becoming her own person, much more of a hopeful ending than the original song, I think.
12:50 – Turns the narrative around, now he’s the one who’s being left behind.
13:10 – Love that she describes her role as “Her, later on” rather than something about her being moved on. Shows that life goes on and carrying those things with you in some ways helps make you stronger.
What I noticed more than anything was how much Taylor divulged in this video about not only her heartbreak after this relationship but also about the realities of their dynamic while they were together. It was so interesting to see the contrast between her casual, comfortable self in private, and her much more made-up, serious self when she was in his world, where she felt completely out of place. I also feel like we got a whole new perspective on the emotional whiplash of it all, which explains a lot about the song itself: the incredibly intense heartbreak blurred by vivid, positive memories which make it all the more difficult to remind yourself of the darker times.
Taylor has done it again, and I feel as though we got a whole new look at such a formative time in her life, which no doubt taught her a lot about love, herself, and what she is capable of, and made her into the woman she is today.