November 14, 2014

WATCH ME IF YOU CAN | “Blank Space”: A Gem to the Cinephile

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On November 10, Taylor Swift premiered the music video for her song, “Blank Space.” This song is one of many on her latest album 1989. I was not sure what to expect when I clicked the link for this video, but I am very glad I did.

From the looks and sound of her music video, this pop star has been spending an awful lot of time with fellow musician Lorde. Its pop beat and awesome lyrics make it a catchy song to dance to, whether you’re getting ready to go out and break some hearts, or recover from your latest love affair.

The fairytale-esque vibe that overtakes the video is Downton Abbey meets Charlotte Bronte gothic. Thankfully, they all ended better than the love affair Taylor and Sean (portrayed by model Sean O’pry) had. The overwhelming gloom and glamour mix together perfectly to make it become more cinematic than the average music video.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at the music video itself from a visual standpoint. Through the cinephile scope, if you know your movies you are able to point out many parts of the clip that reference other films…

Marina Caitlin Watts is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Watch Me if You Can appears alternate Fridays this semester.

MEAN GIRLS This one was super obvious — when Taylor’s man puts on his shirt, she had cut holes in his button down that parallel those of Regina George’s shirt in the popular 2004 film. So fetch.

FROZEN Riding your bikes around indoors? Maybe that will melt Taylor’s cold heart.

GONE WITH THE WIND When she walks down the illustrious staircase in the opening moments of the music video, Taylor is totally having a Scarlett O’Hara moment. And she does it wearing a dress that is quite Beyonce in design. So chic. Taylor also pays homage to Scarlett by throwing and breaking a vase in the beautiful study.

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE A lot of the camera angles were inspired by the Stanley Kubrick film. All the symmetry, such as with the two horses and the staircase in the first minute of the music video, are the same types of shots used in A Clockwork Orange.

ROMEO AND JULIET The balcony scene is such a red flag alluding to the Shakespearean play, film and many other cliched star-cross’d lovers making a statement about how “they know their love is for real.” Really?

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE In the Tennessee Williams play/film adaptation, Blanche loses her cool when she stays with Stella and Stanley. She becomes preoccupied with the idea of a southern belle and finds it super difficult to live up to these expectations, especially around them. Every relationship going forward is a reflection of her failures, and she eventually winds up in a mental institution. Because of her focus on this image, she lacks focus in a successful relationship.  Taylor, too, is very preoccupied in this video and seems to struggle in her on-screen relationship. It’s not a direct reference, but it makes sense metaphorically.

THE AVIATOR When Taylor lights her man’s clothes on fire, she makes it obvious that she is over him and moving on. In the Martin Scorsese film, Howard Hughes burns all of his clothes after Katharine Hepburn breaks up with him. New man? New wardrobe.

THE GREAT GATSBY Though there is no direct red flag to make you assume this music video plays homage to The Great Gatsby, there is excess everywhere nonetheless. Beautiful clothes, animals, furniture; anyone watching this will totally want to move there and buy all the things. The gratuitous extravagance shows how, like Jay Gatsby and his affection towards Daisy, Taylor is consumed here by material things to impress the one she adores.

TWILIGHT I hate the fact that Twilight and Taylor Swift have crossed paths, but it is one of the more obvious ones that can and should be pointed out. She holds a red apple in her hand and, from the looks of it, it resembles the cover of the first book in the series along with that scene in the first movie when Edward catches Bella’s apple as it falls off a cafeteria table. (I also hate the fact that I was able to remember it without having to Google it.) The destroyed paintings in her hallway also look vampirish.

SNOW WHITE The aforementioned apple? She poisoned it and fed it to her man. Although she is not a queen, she sure is as wicked as the one from the Disney film, since she doesn’t hesitate to off him for texting some other girl (T-Swift doesn’t mess around).

JANE EYRE Taylor is perched at the top of her castle a few moments throughout the video.  In the novel and film Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester keeps his insane wife locked away at the top of a tower at their Gothic estate.

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY The novel and film present the idea that beauty and hedonistic ideals are the only values you need in life, even though they do not last forever.  Taylor’s painting of Sean reflects his beauty, like all the ones of her ex-lovers, and she is hyper aware of how the aesthetic pleasure associated with both will fade.

CITIZEN KANE The mansion that the music video takes place at? The aerial views that we see of it are the same that were used to portray Xanadu in the film Citizen Kane.  The vast estate that was used in the film also are the perfect backdrop for this music video.

The undertones of cinematic Easter eggs are more than enough to satisfy the viewer of the music video, let along with all of the ways Taylor Swift redefines life as we know it in her four minute clip.

Marina Caitlin Watts is a junior in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She may be reached at [email protected]. Watch Me if You Can appears alternate Fridays this semester.