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Beyoncé’s Renaissance film is many things. It’s a veneration of black queer artistry, an illustration of the sacrifice necessary to achieve greatness, and a celebration of a family coming together. It’s also a love letter to Beyoncé’s fans, the people who filled the stadiums every night to witness Beyoncé’s brilliance.
Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé is not a typical concert film. It includes numerous behind-the-scenes segments exploring the work that went into the “Renaissance” tour and the influences behind the album. But the performance sequences are the heart of the movie, and they center the experience of fans above all else.
The film is impeccably edited—much like Homecoming—and some of the best shots are those that capture fans’ reactions. We’re shown audience members looking overjoyed, in tears, shocked, experiencing the full spectrum of emotions. The celebrities in the audience are depicted as fans too. Cardi B and Tracee Ellis Ross dutifully participate in the Mute Challenge, and when Megan Thee Stallion joins Beyoncé on stage, she can’t help but yell “I love you Beyoncé!” over and over again.
Beyoncé acknowledges how important fans are in creating the “Renaissance” experience. “The goal for this tour was to create a place where everyone is free and no one is judged,” she said in the film’s trailer. She describes the atmosphere of the tour as an exchange of energy. She puts energy out and fans take that energy in and then send it right back to her. This powerful exchange is emphasized through the edit, which cuts between Beyonce’s incredible performances and fans’ impassioned responses to her.
The Renaissance movie is a long time coming. Beyoncé fans spent over a year hoping she would release “Renaissance” visuals, and they never came. She finally commented on the elephant in the room at a show in Louisville, telling the crowd “You are the visual, baby.” She underscores this point in the film, which spotlights the stylish and inventive outfits in the crowd. The film’s emphasis on black creativity—including Beyoncé’s tribute to her beloved Uncle Johnny—applies to the fans as well.
Renaissance makes it clear: Beyoncé wouldn’t be where she is today without the black queer artists who created house music and innovated so many fashion trends, nor would she have the success she has without the fans. Her famous Mugler bee costume is a direct reference to her fanbase, known as the BeyHive, and it’s become one of her most beloved outfits on the tour. Fashion excellence and gratitude go hand in hand.
The experience of watching the concert film in a theater adds another layer to this fan engagement. Some fans dressed up to go see the film and treated it like a concert, dancing and singing in the aisles. Just like at the tour, audiences felt free to express themselves in the theater. This was especially true for LGBTQ fans, as the album and film serve as homages to queer art. “I’m seeing myself, period,” said one fan at the show.
Why it matters
Like Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour movie, Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé provides fans with a more affordable way to see the show. But it’s much more than that. As both a documentary and a concert film, the movie gives fans a chance to engage with Beyoncé as a human being as well as a talented performer.
Beyoncé may be a singular artist, but her excellence does not exist in a vacuum. It’s the cultural background that nourished her and the fans that uplift her that make her the Queen B.