Halsey’s latest album, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power made its debut through an hour-long IMAX film experience. Fans all around the world were able to enter select theaters to witness the album as it was intended to be perceived. Featuring beautifully captured visuals of a dark fantasy world telling a story through the eyes of a young queen, we witness her growth and shaping upon the murder of her husband and journey through pregnancy. And this week, for just a few days, the album and film experience has been re-released through Moment House after the album topped the charts. Until Friday evening, fans can watch the replay for a fair price. Get your tickets here.
Halsey has amassed more than 31 billion combined global streams to date, including more than 12.5 billion U.S. streams, and sold nearly 17 million adjusted album units worldwide. Halsey continues to push creative boundaries, exerting an influence and impact beyond music. Her first book, I Would Leave Me If I Could: A Collection of Poetry, debuted on The New York Times Best Sellers list last November. She then introduced about-face, a multi-dimensional makeup line for made for everyone. Halsey continues to speak up for important causes such as disenfranchised youth, women’s rights, mental health and the LGBTQ community.
If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power follows Manic, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Current Albums chart. It was the first album of 2020 to be certified Platinum in the U.S. and attained Platinum certification in numerous other countries also. The career-defining album, which features 13 songs penned by Halsey, was produced by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Known for their work in Nine Inch Nails and as Oscar, Golden Globe and GRAMMY®-winning film/television composers, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power is the first album the pair have produced for another artist. Dave Grohl, Lindsey Buckingham and Pino Palladino feature as guests throughout the album. Anticipation had been building since early July, when Halsey unveiled the album’s cover art at The Met Fifth Avenue in New York City.
IMAX Experience: Halsey Presents If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power screened in cities around the globe earlier this month, and today, fans can still experience the film from the comfort of their homes via Moment House. The hour-long film experience, set to the music of the new album, was written by Halsey, and directed by Colin Tilley.
The beginning of the film begins, revealing a scene of a murder, where the king in the kingdom was poisoned. Court members immediately suspect their queen, Lila (played by Halsey), and they stare upon her while she seems in her own world, none the wiser. Gazing upon the mirror, she sees someone she doesn’t recognize. A seemingly different woman, dressed in black with charcoal smeared upon her face and a dark look in her eye. Halsey’s hands graze over her womb as she begins to suspect that something is in fact different about her.
“Bells in Santa Fe” plays in the background as Lila takes in the surroundings of her new normal. With the king dead, she takes on the weight of responsibility. Sitting on the throne, her ladies in waiting prepare her and ready her for the funeral. The lyrics “it’s not a happy ending,” and “all of this is temporary,” from the track repeat and echo in the mind as we begin the foreshadow the events to come throughout the film.
During the funeral itself, “1121,” then plays. Lyrics throughout the track reflect possible thoughts that the star of the film may be reflecting upon. She reveals a bruise on her wrist as she looks one of the court members in the eye. The scene then flashes back into an experience where the king lashes out in anger at his queen. It is in this moment that the audience suspects Lila as his murderer, since she now has a cause to be freed from his oppressive power he held over her. This scene is beautifully emotive and continues to build upon itself in the scene following.
As Lila jumps into her four poster bed in an ornately decorated room, we feel the intimacy Lila feels in being alone. “Whispers” begins to play, expressing the dark fears and voices lurking from within. The room is bathed in reds and dark blues. The figure she saw in the mirror in the beginning of the film appears, and plunges her hand into her womb as Lila screams in horror. She wakes the next morning, with “Lilith” from the album playing. This may suggest that the thing visiting her at night is in fact Lilith. According to My Jewish Learning, “Lilith is the most notorious demon in Jewish tradition. In some sources, she is conceived of as the original woman, created even before Eve, and she is often presented as a thief of newborn infants. Lilith means “the night,” and she embodies the emotional and spiritual aspects of darkness: terror, sensuality, and unbridled freedom. More recently, she has come to represent the freedom of feminist women who no longer want to be ‘good girls'” (1). This definition all lines up with the vivid imagery in this scene of the film and the scenes to follow.
Lila tests for a possible pregnancy, then cleans up in the bath house with her ladies-in-waiting, who dance around her in support of her. After the song ends, reality begins to strike as she feels the weight of responsibilities. “Girl Is A Gun,” follows, depicting a scene of partying and feeling lightweight and freedom in its fullest. Lila wears a bright blue gown and enjoys in the newfound freedoms in being queen without a king holding her down. The scene pans to the court, who watches her every move from above. Lila then wanders in the woods and brushes past a near encounter with death in a drunken stupor. As she walks home, she finds a cabin, where a witch greets her and caresses her womb. She calms her and they bond together in the possibility of her pregnancy and rebirth.
Reality then hits Lila again as she runs off, back to the castle, and sees that in fact, she is with child. Halsey then shares in various scenes, the process through the pregnancy, month by month. As the child grows within her, she too falls in love with them, and “The Lighthouse” plays.
Just weeks before her due date, she is presented to the court and told she is to be executed “for her treason and her wickedness.” Lila then strips herself of her royal garb and plunges herself into the waters outside, determined to set her own fate before another is to end her own. Her child then kicks from within the womb, and she opens her eyes and swims back to shore. Rather than ending her own life, she decides to live for the sake of her child.
As her water breaks, Lila runs away from the castle. “Easier Than Lying” plays as she finds the cabin and gives birth in the presence of the witch that gave her comfort and ease, just months before. As she gives birth we are shown the scenes just before the king is murdered. After having his way with her, unwillingly, he drinks from the cup she poisoned and collapses on the floor. The child is born, and guards from the castle hunt her down and find her just after the umbilical cord is cut. She is dragged out of the cabin by her feet, one of the members of the court holding the child in his arms, as the lyrics “I gave myself up for you” play in the background.
Lila wakes in a cell with the door opened, and the guards watching her killed. She wanders into the castle as her ladies care for her child. She is able to hold him in her arms one time before she is prepared for her execution. “I am not a woman I’m a god” plays as the guillotine is prepared and she is dressed in diamond encrusted chains. As she seats herself in her own execution site and lays her head, “Darling” plays, and we are roped into a scene of dream and hope and laughter as Lila daydreams about being with her child as they grow up, something she realizes she will not see. When the song ends, instead of weeping or remaining silent, Lila begins to laugh. The guillotine drops.
Instead of the film ending there, the woman that was shown in the mirror at the beginning of the film appears. Lila, who has become Lilith, lives on. Wearing couture pieces from Candy Makeup Artist, she gazes out into the execution site, and the credits roll. Halsey’s film and album experience is a beautiful and intentional concept album Each scene was curated with intention, timed to play each song at specific times to hold out the meanings in their fullest. If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power was set to the music of Halsey’s newly released album while sharing the story of a young and pregnant Queen, Lila, as she wrestles with the manipulative chokehold of love to ultimately discover that the ability to create life (and end it) unlocks the paranormal power from within her. The film was directed by Colin Tilley, written and starred by Halsey, and the album was produced by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross.
Download / stream If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power HERE.