Taylor Swift’s Short Film Directorial Debut ‘All Too Well’ Stuns Audiences


Taylor Swift – All Too Well: The Short Film (Courtesy of Taylor Swift’s YouTube)

By Lee Kedem, Arts Writer


“Red (Taylor’s Version)” marks the second re-recorded album from pop sensation Taylor Swift. The singer made the decision with the release of “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” to go through and re-release her old albums so that she owns the rights to them.

With “Red,” Swift is telling all of the people who want to own her words and melodies to kindly back away while staying in a total “State Of Grace.” The song I found most intriguing upon the release of the album, and overwhelmingly a fan-favorite, was “All Too Well (Ten Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version) (From The Vault)” which, as Taylor shared on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, is her favorite as well.

Talk Show Revelations

The song “All Too Well” originally debuted on the 2012 release of “Red.” The song was five minutes and 27 seconds in length on the album, where the re-recorded “Red (Taylor’s Version)” features a 10 minute and 13-second version — 13 being Taylor’s favorite number.

While on Fallon’s Show, Swift shares a story about the history of the song, explaining that it was an improvised piece that she strummed along on her guitar when having a bad day. Her mother made sure to acquire a recording of the work session that had just taken place, presumably realizing how special the song was before anyone else had said anything. The song pulls back the curtain on one of the most defining relationships of Taylor’s life and is a song expressing the hurt after the relationship had taken its final bow.

Fan-Filled Speculation

Taylor has previously directed music videos but announcing that “All Too Well” would be its own short film was a first. She cast Sadie Sink as “Her,” likely autobiographical as Swift makes an appearance at the end as “Her, later on” and Dylan O’Brien as “Him,” presumably playing Jake Gyllenhaal, Taylor’s old beau, whom fans speculate the song is about.

The biggest parallel drawn from the on-and-off screen relationship of the characters is the age gap. Swift and Gyllenhaal had a nine year age gap when dating, and the casting of Sink and O’Brien reflects that. The short film offers fans a glimpse into this world, illustrating how her partner didn’t come to her twenty-first birthday party, left her alone with no support around people she didn’t know and took her virginity — something she sings about not being able to get back. Fans speculate that Swift uses the red scarf her character dawns in the video to allude to her virginity being taken by him, in lyrics, “And you’ve still got it in your drawer even now.”

Enchanting the Crowd

The magic that Swift brings to the screen is her meticulous direction. The notorious messenger of Easter eggs in music has planted many seeds for fans to seek out in her short film as well.

A moment that stuck out to me above many others is the scene that occurs between the two characters in the middle of the film. It is shot in one take and the camera follows around the two actors — fully immersing the audience in the visceral interaction taking place in a way that is lifelike and tense. 

After watching this organically graceful short film upon its release, I cannot wait to see how Taylor brings a nostalgic yet new take to all of her soon to be re-recorded albums. Fans speculate that “Speak Now” may be her next project, but until then, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” will dominate the charts. 


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