‘Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé’ Captures the Spectacular Scale of the Megastar’s World Tour
Beyoncé needs no introduction. A reigning giant in music, pop culture and fashion, she conquered the world long ago, and is still setting trends and breaking records. The release of “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” only further confirms that the megastar continues to make her presence known in all mediums. Beyoncé doesn’t utilize a hired hand to chronicle her “Renaissance World Tour.” She is credited as the director of her concert film. Of course, Beyoncé is no stranger to grand film gestures. In 2020 she released the eye-popping “Black Is King” and we all remember 2016’s “Lemonade” film. This new film is both a record of a globe-trotting tour and a sign of Beyoncé and her team keeping their finger on the cultural pulse. It follows on the heels of Taylor Swift’s November release of the massively successful “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” film. Both artists and projects are different enterprises, but it signals a shift in the way concert films are being increasingly perceived as having the potential for wide-release events.
Beyoncé’s tour that this film chronicles was quite the pop cultural event in itself. Spanning from May to October 2023, the “Renaissance World Tour” covered 39 cities with 56 dates. 2.7 million fans turned out for the shows worldwide, helping the tour gross $579 million and thus becoming the highest-grossing tour by a Black artist. It also now occupies eighth place on the list of highest grossing tours ever. These are fitting numbers for an artist that has cast such a large presence over pop culture for decades. The “Renaissance” album was itself an acclaimed release when it dropped in July 2022. As Beyoncé’s first solo album since “Lemonade,” it was applauded as a feverish mix of genres, nodding at everything from disco to house to ballroom, while rendering homage to pioneering Black queer artists. The lineup of collaborators was one huge guest list that included Nova Wav, The-Dream, Symbolyc One, A.G. Cook, Honey Dijon, Beam, Tricky Stewart, BloodPop, Skrillex, Hit-Boy, No I.D. and P2J. Beam, Grace Jones and Tems. Beyoncé went on to become the first artist to simultaneously rank #1 on over 23 Billboard charts.
When it comes to “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” the superstar still knows how to do things her own way. She doesn’t follow the pattern of recent concert films and unlike Swift’s opus, makes space for material involving her family. Her mother, Tina Knowles, frequently appears as well as her daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. Don’t forget the twins, Rumi and Sir. There are also confessional moments from Beyoncé where she discusses letting go of being a people-pleaser or Blue Ivy’s determination to dance even better during “My Power” after friends showed her negative reactions online. We also get insights into the singer’s time in rehab after surgery to deal with an onstage knee injury from two decades ago. Material like this speaks to Beyoncé’s confidence as an artist, through her willing to show off the scale of her tour alongside more personal struggles. Bits of autobiography are sprinkled all around touching on the influence of Beyoncé’s Uncle Johnny. During the songs she also speaks on personal terms with the audience, as many great artists know how to do.
Fans who attended the “Renaissance Word Tour” and those who couldn’t will be immersed in the highlights. Beyoncé appears riding the glittering disco horse from the album cover and songs like “Pure/Honey” and “Move” are energetically pieced together from different performances in multiple cities. Per the singer, it took four years to plan every element of the tour’s design. Above all, “Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” is another testament to a performer who continues to be celebrated for just how talented she is. Some artists master one particular craft, Beyoncé can glide through many. What she wears may set trends. The look and scale of her shows will no doubt be shadowed by artists taking notes. As a filmmaker she has the instinct for high drama through the visuals and music. There is little doubt this diva is surely a perfectionist behind the curtain, because so much of what she produces is flawless. It’s essential she keeps documenting the journey, so we can all see the sheer effort involved. Making pop cultural history may be fun, but rarely easy.
“Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé” releases Dec. 1 in theaters nationwide.