Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” video starts “Red” resurgence


Rina Yang

Grace Sherban reports on Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well” video.

Grace Sherban, Staff Reporter

Taylor Swift’s newest studio album, “Red (Taylor’s Version)” was released on Nov. 12 to critical acclaim and fans’ delight. This new album is the re-recorded version of her hit 2012 album of the same name, “Red”, with songs allegedly about her past relationship with actor Jake Gyllenhaal. This is Swift’s second venture in re-releasing her prior albums, the first being “Fearless (Taylor’s Version)” back in April of this year. 

According to Time, Swift is re-recording her first six studio albums because Scooter Braun, music mogul and the bane of existence for many Swifites, bought the original masters of these albums. Every time someone streams or buys music written by Swift from these albums, Braun is the one who profits. As the person responsible for writing and recording this art, Swift vowed to re-record all of her previous works to gain ownership of these new versions which she named fittingly, “Taylor’s Version.” The release of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” brought new recordings of the 16 songs on the original album, 14 songs that she wrote for the album but never recorded until now and a short film revolving around an extended version of the fan favorite, lyrical masterpiece, “All Too Well.”

Taylor Swift rereleases “Red,” supplemented by the video for “All Too Well.” (Eva Rinaldi)

“All Too Well” is a retrospective of a past relationship which looked promising, but turned sour. The song chronicles the feelings and events associated with the relationship while also trying to learn how to cope from the experience. “All Too Well” is an example of one of those rare songs that gives the listener such an in depth look at the artist’s inner feelings as well as being a  relatable piece of music that everyone can find something to appreciate. 



Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”

— Pablo Neruda


“All Too Well: The Short Film” was written and directed by Taylor Swift featuring Sadie Sink, best known for “Stranger Things” and Dylan O’Brien, of “Teen Wolf” fame. A quote by Pablo Neruda which reads, “Love is so short, forgetting is so long,” greets the viewer and perfectly encapsulates the sentiment behind both the song and short film. The video then proceeds to show the two leads madly in love with the woman saying, “Are you for real?” As the music starts to play, images of the two leads start to give visuals of iconic Swift moments like the iconic red scarf and dancing in the kitchen in the refrigerator light.

The general aesthetic of the short film fits well with that of the album itself, and the choice by cinematographer Rina Yang to shoot with 35mm film gives it more of a natural feeling. The autumn setting, clothing choices and overall mise en scéne perfectly visualize Swift’s lyrics. The only true scene in the film with audible dialogue, which could be considered an extended music video, is when things begin to fall apart in the relationship. The woman is upset because during a dinner party, the man drops her hand, which could be seen as a possible reference to “Champagne Problems” that was on Swift’s underappreciated album “Evermore.” This scene articulates the meaning of the song through the dialogue, and it shows that sometimes good guys are not what they seem to be. 

While the beginning of the video shows happy times, the final half after the dialogue scene captures the collapse and end of the relationship. As one of Swift’s iconic bridges starts to play, “Well, maybe we got lost in translation/ Maybe I asked for too much/ But maybe this thing was a masterpiece/ ‘Til you tore it all up,” the woman and man are seen yelling at each other. The music is timed perfectly to the events unfolding in the video, and the image of these two people fighting further expresses Swift’s lyrical intent. 

The short film then proceeds to show the woman start to write down the story of her relationship with the man while reminiscing on the time they spent together. Towards the end, the video jumps thirteen years – Swift’s lucky number – into the future as the woman, now played by a red-headed Taylor Swift, goes to a signing for her book, fittingly called “All Too Well.” As the song’s final lyrics start to repeat hauntingly, the man can be seen watching her through the window wearing the scarf. 

The commentary that “All Too Well: The Short Film” adds to what the audience knows about Swift’s alleged past relationship with Gyllenhaal provides an interesting look at celebrity couples and their place in pop culture. One lyric from the extended version of the song says, “‘I’ll get older, but your lovers stay my age,’” which shows the double standard that many women face when dating. In almost all forms of media and in real life, women are punished for dating men who are either extremely older or younger than they are. According to Genius, Swift was 20 years old and Gyllenhaal was 29 when they dated, and at 40 he is dating 25 year old Jeanne Cadieu as of early November. The short film does a good job of casting actors who convincingly portray this age gap, and makes the audience confront this double standard as they watch the film. 

Backlash against Jake Gyllenhaal arises from “All Too Well.” (John Bauld)

“Red (Taylor’s Version)” was recorded to return ownership to Taylor Swift, but in doing so, it also provided an interesting critique of the music industry, celebrity couples, and the fans’ role in the interplay between these two concepts. The idea of reflecting on past experiences and relationships, which is especially prevalent in “All Too Well,” from the vantage point of the present adds another layer of meaning to the album besides just Swift getting back ownership rights.

As someone who has probably watched “All Too Well: The Short Film” about 40 times while writing this review, I still get chills everytime I watch it. The additional lyric, “You kept me like a secret/ But I kept you like an oath,” is enough of a reason to watch the film. With four re-recorded albums still on the way, it is important to remember Swift’s intention behind their release. Artists deserve to own their own work. After seeing how the internet reacted to Swift’s lyrics about Gyllenhaal, it’s safe to say that her other past boyfriends have gotten the message. John Mayer, you have been warned. Taylor’s coming for you.