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  • Writer's pictureNoah Yard

Renaissance- A Film By Beyoncé: Am I in a Cult?

Today I did something truly brave. I went to the cinema alone! Because no one in my life that I knew was as obsessed with Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter as I am. Also, nobody wanted to watch a 3-hour concert movie. TOTALLY fair. But here’s why YOU should take the time to see Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé.

Not only was Renaissance: A Film By Beyoncé a FANTASTIC endorphin-raising concert extravaganza, but it was also both a peer into her complex work process and intimate family life. Movies don’t generally make me feel anything other than entertainment, but I felt the full pallet of human emotion watching her, the artist I love the most, work, live and perform in such an up-close format.

Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé follows Beyoncé’s Renaissance tour from its conception, to its first stop in Stockholm Sweden, to the last stop in Kansas City, Missouri. The film is structured around the concert itself, the songs that flow together, and if it’s suitable to a part of the performance, there’s an interjection, a behind-the-scenes look at an aspect of the tour.

One of the first of these, after the show starts, is a section that explains how big the stage is, how it’s built, who works on the tour etc. Then one that follows is about just how involved Bey is with every minute detail of the tour, the conversations she has to make the magic on screen a reality.

The most beautiful short scene happens during the concert, when Beyoncé introduces her wonderful daughter, Blue Ivy, onto the stage. Before we watch her dominate the stage dancing to My Power, we see her journey from her first appearance to her last in the show, and how much she’s improved.

A huge theme in this film is family and motherhood. Bey, whether it be on the ground, on planes to the next stop, or watching her daughter on stage, is a mother through and through. It’s nice to see a sort of mortal form of someone people see as untouchable. Then there’s her mother Tina who gets candid and talks through the movie like a wise mentor.

Now to the actual concert sections… They’re perfect. You may be a little disappointed if you’re an old-school Beyoncé fan who hasn’t followed up in a while. Because this is a love letter to her latest album, it’s not a greatest hits concert that’s something you should know going in.

There are some callbacks, Dangerously in Love in the beginning and some Crazy in Love toward the end, Drunk in Love (seeing a pattern) makes an appearance too. But for the most part, this is a lavish Renaissance affair, with every song/section getting its time and place. Which I feel is rare.

I wanna talk about fashion, can we please talk about fashion? please?? Because this concert is also part fashion show. Bey wore over 140 outfits during the length of the tour. Obviously, not all of those could be featured but she does a damn good job trying. If you’ve seen Homecoming, the film adaption of her iconic two-night Coachella stint, you’ll know she’s partial to a transition, so seamless you blink and you miss it. In this way Beyonce cycles through some of the top outfits from the tour. During the “Cuff It,” portion of the show, we see outfits from Ivy Park, Valentino, Gucci, and Versace. Every step, a new outfit. A labour of love from the many stylists who worked for her on the show.

Source: Insider

Do you know who else puts that amount of love into their concert outfits? The fans. The amazing, hardcore, fashionable, fans. The people who turned up to the concert get a special nod; “The Beyhive… They got me,” says Beyonce. And boy do they. Some of the most important, heart-warming shots are of the audience. They are the ones who live/breathe/love Bey. You see them cry, sing, DANCE the house down, and serve fashion. From futuristic cowboys to queens in all silver, they show that Beyonce isn’t just an artist in a vacuum, her art inspires art, talent and devotion.

Source: The Today Show

But who inspired her, specifically those who inspired this album and this tour? The whole thing is a love letter to ballroom (queer ballroom not ya grandma's ballroom.) The queer spaces and art forms, legends and upcoming stars. Starting with Kevin JZ Prodigy- an iconic ballroom announcer, to the dancers and voguers who call themselves “The Dolls,” Beyonce pays homage to everything black and queer and special about the community. Lastly, her Uncle Johnny, a large presence in her household growing up, a black and gay fashion designer, uncle Johnny’s mention is particularly moving. You have to watch the movie and see them in the show to appreciate where the music comes from, and what the community of ballroom and house means.

Now I know I’m not really in a cult, but fandom, or the cult of celebrity is a huge thing, parasocial relationships can be a problem in this day and age. Films like this and The Eras Tour Movie add to the overly familiar way we react, at least, to Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. I can’t really say if it’s bad or not as one of the coven but it is worth noting how possibly niche the concert movie genre is. I went alone after all. But I think this one in particular is worth your time. I’m not saying you have to choose between the two but… I think you should.

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