The last day of 2015 brought with it an exciting new video for all Swifties. For me this meant starting 2016 by watching one of my favourite songs from 1989 turned into one of the most visually stunning music videos I have seen.
From the start, it has been clear that Taylor Swift is a fan of fairytales and romance. Love Story was a rewrite of Romeo and Juliet so that they got the happier ending they deserved. White Horse alludes to the idea of a perfect guy (or perhaps a fairytale prince). If This Was A Movie talks about how romance appears on screen compared to reality. Wonderland is of course Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. For me this is one of the things that drew me to Taylor Swift’s music, way back in 2008 when Love Story was released. I loved seeing the innocence of love and romance, but also the growth in learning that it is not all like the movies.
Out of the Woods lyrically is a powerful song that tells of a relationship going through a rocky time and not making it in the end. The listener is exposed to the desperation to make it through this time by the repetition of ‘are we out of the woods yet’ throughout the chorus. We’re given visual glimpses of the relationship, “we were lying on your couch” and “to move the furniture so we could dance,” showing the romantic and beautiful side. Contrastingly in the same verse we see “the rest of the world was black and white, but we were in screaming colour” and “baby, like we stood a chance” showing the volatile nature of the relationship as well.
The music video starts with the words “She lost him” flashing onto the screen, then we see Taylor standing alone, calmly in a dress at the edge of the ocean. The dress is in one piece, she is clean. The ocean of course can be a representation of the vast, emptiness or of hope and opportunity. Perhaps for this song it is both?
The stunning visual effects begin with the very first beat as trees begin growing out of the sand, beginning to surround Taylor as she starts singing. We are thrown into the fairy tale allusions as the woods forms itself around her. First we see Taylor stepping through the woods with her long flowy dress but bare footed.
She is being stalked by a wolf which draws a direct link to Little Red Riding Hood, who was tricked by a wolf while going through a forest to her Grandmother’s house. The wolves here, I believe, to be representations of the media. To begin with they are not doing everything, but they are always watching and waiting.
Taylor feels like she has been threatened and is threatened by the media and its perceptions of her. She has tweeted before in comment regarding this. December 2014, she spoke about how she wished they would stop accusing her of dating all guys. Taylor has very much been accused of serial dating and it is clear she is aware and fed up of this. The song Black Space, Taylor said was written because of this media image.
“Blank Space” is a song that I wrote as kind of a satire. […] I kind of sat back and thought about how complex this character was that they’d drawn up for me. Like, she’s jet-setting all over the world, collecting men! And like, oh, she’s so clingy once she gets them, but she can get any of them, but then they run because she’s so crazy. And she moves in, day two…like, crazy stuff like that, and I just thought…this is amazing. I need to write a song from this girl’s perspective.
Taylor Swift (from the 1989 world tour video)
Throughout the Out of the Woods video, Taylor shows herself to be stronger than the media. She outruns the wolves, so that all they are able to do is slightly rip her dress. When the scene changes to winter and mountains, she shows no signs of running from the wolves as she did in the woods, but rather, she is walking steadily. They are running and unable to catch her.
I’m sure it is no accident that Taylor resembles Alice from the 2010 movie Alice in Wonderland as she is falling from the mountain. Taylor is clearly a fan of Alice in Wonderland from her song Wonderland which not only talks about finding wonderland but also makes direct references to the book with “fell down a rabbit hole” and “Didn’t you calm my fears with the Cheshire cat smile?” But this fall is not the only parallel that can be drawn with the 2010 film.
Taylor begins the music video with a curiosity as she stares towards the ocean. She is a blonde girl, standing in a pale blue dress. At the beginning of the movie Alice is shown with a curiosity of everything around her and is also a blonde girl in a pale blue dress. Throughout the movie we see Alice running through woods, lost, confused and by the end her dress is so completely changed that it hardly resembles the one at the beginning. The same happens to Taylor within this video. She is lost in woods, falling and ends with a dress damaged and dirty.
Within the video, we see Taylor becoming me and more confident. She is not to the ground, threatened with water, snow, ice, fire, wolves and tree, but every time she gets back to her feet and keeps going. I especially like the imagery of the picture on the left here as it is a complete contrast to the pale, light, blue hued colours of the rest of the video. This shows that she can handle whatever is thrown her way even if it is a complete contrast to what she has been
dealing with. I believe this scene might also be alluding to the music video for Bad Blood where she is seen walking away from the explosion behind her.
On the topic of allusion to others. Within Out of the Woods Taylor is seen falling into and crawling through mud, which leaves her filthy but at the end when she is eventually out of the woods, her dress is not in that bad a condition and neither is she. This could be an allusion to Clean, which suggests the scene where she is in the water also happened after the mud. Clean’s lyrics are:
Rain came pouring down when I was drowning
That’s when I could finally breathe
And by morning gone was any trace of you,
I think I am finally clean
The end of the video shows the wood fading and Taylor (in the now considerably changed) walking back onto the beach to see her old self. The message in this is that in order to get out of the woods (or through the different time) you have to go through, you have to keep going. You have to stand up each time that they knock you down.
This video was absolutely beautiful and completely stunning. This is the sixth music video to come out of 1989 and I hope it’s not the last. Here’s to Clean, I Know Places or Wonderland being next.
Disclaimer: Screenshots belong to TaylorSwiftVEVO, Alice in Wonderland belongs to Disney. I claim no ownership of anything except the interpretation and opinions