Fade into view: The images and themes of Style. A video review.

You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye, Taylor Nation.

First of all, props to the director of the music video, Kyle Newman. You probably have heard the name before, he’s married to actress and model Jaime King, who is also a friend of our girl Tay. The supporting actor is Dominic Sherwood. The lead actress is T-Swizzle herself. Everything I’m going to write here is my friggin’ opinion so yes, I could be way off. It’s an editorial. You’re reading my blog. If you didn’t want my opinion, you wouldn’t be here. Enough disclaimers, let’s do this thing.

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

We start with an image of Taylor slowly fading into a cave entrance at the beach. You can even hear seagulls. The image of the cave framed by T’s silhouette feels like it’s saying from now on, all that we will see is inside her mind. This is all from her perspective. In other words, the account of this rocky relationship is not fact – but rather sentiment. This is not a narration.

The pace of the video is far more contemplative that the song seems to call for, a reason why there’s been a lot of talk of how it doesn’t quite fit the mood of the song. Or, like I mentioned in my first impressions, it doesn’t have the same style. Just so you’re prepared I’m going to be using that word ad nauseam in this little review.

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

The Sparkly Dressed does give a nod to Harry Styles with the little airplane necklace. It starts appearing at 13 seconds in. Mind you, it only appears a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss it moments. I don’t believe this video or the song is about a real relationship. I believe it’s about a relationship of a similar style that the one she had with Harry. Inspired, sure. Dedicated, perhaps. Exactly, not really. That’s also why I believe it’s the name in singular. I also think there’s something to the fact that the necklace appears but Taylor is never wearing it.

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

The trees, or the woods if we may go right into it, are another nod. That being said, I also believe “Out Of The Woods” was inspired but not factually about her past relationship. I specially like the bewitching image of the Enchantress with the trees framed up inside her image. Those woods, those trees she appears lost in are actually within her own self. That’s a degree of complexity that none of her other videos addressed. The sacrifices she makes to her privacy, to having her life on the lens, is something she’s well aware of and has accepted as part of her life. Because of that, relationships will always be complicated.

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

The mirror is a very strong element in the video. It often appears cracked, with Taylor appearing on focus but going out of focus as her lover becomes clear but facing another way. Or just a fragment of a mirror with Taylor’s lips singing. Or a very strong image of Taylor cracked in two with two different takes of her on each side, not matching. The cracked mirrors seem to represent an altered state, a discomfort with one’s own image, and with both people separated they also speak about a relationship that is broken.

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

Which is a pity, because in this kind of relationship there was happiness. There was love. There’s one of the happiest I’ve seen Taylor in recent videos where she’s looking into the camera and making a grabbing motion towards it. You kind of want to go back to that. But we often romanticize the past, remember the good times and not the bad times we have. There is nostalgia in this video too. That can be treacherous. That can lead you to believe you can make a relationship work based only of the good times of the past.

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

This video has sensuality in it. It has the idea of intimacy embedded in some of the images. There’s a crackle of a lightning bolt as both lovers reunite. But as the electricity is but a memory in the end. Seeing the Queen of Sparks reminiscing about days gone by is done by images projected onto a wall where she stands alone. She also assumes her past love remembers her, and her eyes appear in his rear view mirror although she’s not in the car with him. In the bridge of the song, she even expects to be picked up and taken home. But he’s gone as reflected by the lines of the road onto his back.

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

Then again, perhaps it was just all in her mind. It was all a dream. Can we really know? Was this the relationship she had, the one she thought she should have or the one that never was? Am I reading too much into it or not enough? If you have find yourself projecting your own relationships onto the one depicted on the video, then perhaps it helped you get some closure. Maybe that was Taylor’s intention after all – not reveal her own past love but remind you of one of your own.

You can see the video again here.

Watch on YouTube

(Source: Big Machine Records)
(Source: Big Machine Records)

Coming up on the Calendar!

  • February 15: Taylor Swift is part of Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary.
  • February 17: She’s the main guest on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on NBC.
  • February 25: Taylor Swift is nominated for International Female Solo Artist for the BRIT Awards 2015. She is scheduled to perform.
  • March 15: Taylor Swift’s 1989 is nominated for International Album of the Year for the 2015 JUNO Awards.
  • March 29: Taylor Swift is nominated for Artist of the Year, Song of the Year for “Shake It Off”, Best Fan Army for the Swifties, and Lyrics of the Year for “Blank Space” for the 2015 iHeartRadio Music Awards. The show will be broadcast on NBC at 8pm ET.

(Sources: Taylor Swift via YouTube)

2 thoughts on “Fade into view: The images and themes of Style. A video review.

  1. Terri

    I love your take on the video!! You interpreted some things in a way I hadn’t thought of that are very interesting and very thought provoking, thank you for that. I’d also like to thank you for not banging on about how this video would have been better suited to another song, as I find that insulting to Taylor’s vision and the hard work by Taylor and all involved that went into making what is arguably one of the most beautiful and ethereal artistic videos she’s ever done,

    I personally like that Taylor chose to show us a different interpretation, instead of going with some hackneyed fashion or James Dean era storyline. I love that she’s constantly surprising us with her videos and gives us a peek into her thoughts and feelings in unexpected ways. Never a dull moment.

    Thank you for never being afraid to shoot form the hip…or should that be fingertips? 🙂

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