Music Video Breakdown: 'Out of the Woods' by Taylor Swift

Secret messages can be found all over Taylor Swift’s work, from the “random” capitalizations in her CD booklets to the sometimes not-so-subtle hints in her song lyrics. Her music video for her song “Out of the Woods” is no different. In this video, Swift frantically flees through land, ice, and fire as a pack of vicious wolves chase her. These wolves are relentless, and they seem to have a message for Swift—or perhaps a message for everyone. They are telling Swift not to go out of the woods but to return to them. “Out of the Woods” is a call to action, starting with the realization that modernity has taken over nature. By displaying a variety of beautiful, natural settings erupting in cataclysmic events set to an anxiety-filled song, this music video reminds audiences that time is running out.

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We receive the first clue within three seconds: “She lost him.” Or is it “She lost Him?” Swift alludes to Genesis 1, The Beginning, when God created the universe and introduced vegetation, seas, animals, and other natural creatures to the world—and laments that the apparent obsession with iPhones and iPads of today has made the people lose their connection with the Earth and with what He or the Earth created.

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A minute into the music video, we find that Swift is being chased by wolves. The undomesticated creatures are symbols of the natural world warning people of the consequences to come.

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The wolves tear Swift’s dress, which appears to be machine-made and serves as another symbol of the dominance of man and technology. They encourage Swift—if a bit forcefully—to return to her natural roots and opt for organic, environmentally-friendly clothing that can be created without the use of an electricity-draining machine.

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Finally understanding the message, Swift grabs her necklace—another man-made product—and tosses it off a cliff. She rids herself of these unnatural products of the modern age.

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An ice storm helps with her transition, shattering the most obviously artificial layers of her dress.

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Initially, Swift struggles to accept the new lifestyle she must lead to stop the pervasive spread of modernity. The woods hold her back, reminding her to not succumb to technology’s luxurious benefits.

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Swift finally embraces the truth. She is at peace with the wolves, the woods, and the Earth.

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Swift returns to her former self—she has been traveling in a metaphorical journey in her consciousness this entire time. As she reaches out to herself, ready to begin the journey to help the Earth reclaim itself from the modern man, the trees shrink to seeds, also ready to begin anew.


Staff writer Grace Z. Li can be reached at grace.li@thecrimson.com

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