Movie theaters everywhere were taken by storm with superstar Beyoncé Knowles-Carter and her new film, “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé.” The film is a combination of a behind-the-scenes documentary and concert footage. Even more impressively, Beyoncé combined multiple shots from different shows over her Renaissance Tour to show the large variety of vocal and outfit changes. Released Dec. 1, the film took me in with its larger-than-life live soundtrack, its editing and its consistent homages to ballroom culture.
While watching the film, I first noted how crisp the camera and lighting quality were. A trend I have noticed in recent films is a significant decrease in the color and overall lighting, leaving a dramatic and drab effect. This is not nearly the case with Beyoncé’s new film as the colors in every concert-shot are bright and excessive. It feels as though Beyoncé is bringing you closer to the stage than if you saw the tour this summer. Even in the black-and-white scenes that focus on setting up the tour, viewers still feel like you are there rather than just watching a video. The camera work also does an excellent job of encompassing all the minor details on stage. For instance, I was able to see more of the elaborate stage props compared to when I saw front-row perspective videos on YouTube.
Another thing that I enjoyed with “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” was the sound quality. Even describing it in this review is not nearly enough to do it justice, you have to hear it yourself. When Beyoncé’s song “Formation” was performed in the film, the bass alone began to shake my seat to the point where I felt like I was in the stadium. With her opening performance of “Dangerously in Love,” the sound levels were edited to the point where you could properly hear every note of her passionate vocals, but you could also hear the fans singing every lyric and cheering. There was not a single instance in the film where one sound overpowered another, which I appreciate.
I am a major fan of how the editing in this film worked. Throughout the tour, Beyoncé wore many, many outfits for certain songs. However, the scenes in the film were cut to the point where every outfit could be showcased. For example, with her performances of “I’m That Girl” and “Cozy,” the viewer could watch her seamlessly transition to another outfit. I also appreciated the inclusion of concert accidents, instead of adding them out. For instance, during the performance of “Alien Superstar” when her power went out on a specific date, the film included a glitching effect to highlight the stadium’s power going out. It added more character to the filming, showing that while concerts have mistakes, embracing them adds more charm to them.
The most important aspect of this film was the decision to make the film half concert material and half behind-the-scenes material. In the film, Beyoncé herself said that while she likes it when people watch her perform, she wants more people to look at the process of how her performances are made. You get to see everybody involved from choreographers, background singers, tailors, nurses and even caterers, which I think is important because the concert is not just because of Beyoncé. The film also shows Beyoncé’s relationship with her family, specifically with her daughter Blue Ivy. You see a scene where Beyoncé was cautious about letting Blue Ivy perform due to online criticism, but in an interview with Blue, she said she uses the criticism to get better. This is a powerful part of the film because it shows that Beyoncé is not just a performer, there’s a real person behind the musician.
Overall, the film is arguably one of the best releases I’ve seen this year. Honestly, it was so good I did not even notice the three-hour runtime. Finally, the end credits teasing a new era with her new song “MY HOUSE” was an excellent early Christmas gift.