Gotta Find My Baby!

July 01, 2022

A New Awakening: Elvis

ELVIS (US, 2022)

Title:
Elvis
Filmed:
January 28, 2020 - March 2021
Released:
June 24, 2022 (Worldwide)
Running time:
159min
Production companies:
Warner Bros.
Bazmark Films
Roadshow Entertainment
The Jackal Group
Wholerock Industries
Budget:
US$ 85 million
Box office:
US$ 65 million (WORLDWIDE, until July 01, 2022)
Main cast:
Elvis Presley
Austin Butler
Chaydon Jay
Tom Hanks
Olivia DeJonge
Helen Thompson
Richard Roxburgh
Luke Bracey
Dacre Montgomery
Soundtrack:
"Elvis" (Double CD / Digital)
(June 24, 2022)


Elvis 
is the first movie released in theaters to deal with the life of the King of Rock. In it, Colonel Parker presents the facts of the singer's life through his lens. It is directed by Baz Luhrmann, who co-wrote the screenplay with Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce and Jeremy Doner.


It was announced in 2014 that Luhrmann would direct an Elvis Presley biopic, though the project was not officially announced until March 2019. Austin Butler was cast in the title role in July, beating out several high-profile actors.

Filming began in Luhrmann's native Australia in January 2020, but was halted from March to September following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and Tom Hanks' positive diagnosis. Filming ended more than a year after it began, in March 2021.

The entire production was filmed on location and in a studio in Australia. In fact, some supporting actors let their Australian accent slip several times while playing Americans.

Although it is a film that has promised to bring the real story of Elvis Presley, some scenes and events were totally invented, inserted in contexts that are not real or distorted to favor a narrative. The director himself made it clear that this was his intention from the beginning, which could harm the acceptance of the plot by the fans most intimate with the singer's true story.

When released worldwide on June 24, 2022, the film enjoyed a good reception in theaters, quickly taking second place at the box office in its opening weekend with $31 million, behind only "Top Gun: Maverick" (released on May 25, 2022) with $126 million. As of July 1, 2022, the film remains in second place with $65 million, still second only to Top Gun's more than $1 billion.
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Below we list some errors and make observations about our experience with the film, given from the point of view that one should not change facts to please parties or create commercial polemics.

***************CONTAINS SPOILERS!***************
Please skip to the "soundtrack" section if you haven't seen the movie.

"I am the legendary Colonel Tom Parker." The first scenes show Andreas Cornelius van Kuijk in his hospital bed in Las Vegas, where he died of a stroke on January 21, 1997, aged 87, reevaluating his life and relationship with Elvis. We have a sense of propagandism from a protagonist who has greatly harmed Elvis and see the movie's first poetic licenses in putting a Star Trek Experience outdoor in Vegas one year before it opened and placing Parker in the International Hotel 25 years after it was sold to the Hilton.

Of course, Parker was - with merit - responsible for boosting the career of the poor boy coming from Tupelo in the 1950s, but history tells that this relationship became one of almost - if not only - exploitation of the singer in the 1970s, which led to to the worsening of his existing health problems. Parker even once said that he didn't get 50% of what Elvis earned, but the opposite!

At first, it seems that the film wants to make us believe the STORY and discredit the HISTORY.

From the story of Parker's life before Elvis to the real object of the film, 10 minutes go by. The next scenes explore the birth of Elvis and Jessie Garon, his childhood in poverty, and Vernon's imprisonment, placing him in Shake Rag, Tupelo's poor, black neighborhood, in 1947. There, he learns about the blues and evangelical revivals that would fascinate him so much throughout his life. It's 2 and a half minutes that summarize in a very trivial way what Elvis' childhood was like.

Memphis, 1954. Luhrmann's pace has always been frantic in his films, and it shows here. Mere seconds sum up how Sam Phillips' secretary had her millionaire foreboding - for Phillips - the "invention" of "That's All Right" and the arrival at The Louisiana Hayride.

There is merit in showing that Elvis was always in touch with black culture and liked to roam the famous Beale Street while living in Lauderdale Courts, but this can be seen as cultural appropriation - which is already happening in the opinion of Generation Z - by not have been explained in the correct way and with the necessary time taken. It was necessary for these scenes to make it clear that Elvis never stole anything from black people - which Little Richard himself, who always joked about the singer stealing his opportunities, always made it clear - but created his own style using the knowledge he had.

The next sequence is very important. Gladys never trusted the Colonel and that - thank God - is clearly shown. She knew, as we would learn later, that Parker had something to hide. His gambling addiction was sated as Elvis performed from town to town, took perilous night trips while tired, ventured out with unknown girls, and resorted to antidepressants to keep his energy up. Parker, busy with his visits to casinos, didn't see or care what this might entail as long as his "vault" brought in the funding for his vices.

Through psychological maneuvers that always revolved around getting rich and the good life, Parker managed to convince the Presleys - but not quite Gladys - to sign on as a "family business" for Elvis to go to RCA.

Luhrmann's problem with these upcoming sections is that a lot has been taken out of context and had their timeline modified to justify a few other things. Elvis buys Graceland by signing with RCA in 1955, when it was actually 1957; Gladys complains all the time about being abandoned, when in reality she kept almost everything to herself; Elvis fought with her, which was never the case; Elvis sings "Trouble" live in 1956, a song written only two years later for the movie King Creole.

"It's the army or the jail." This is the Colonel's excuse in the film for Elvis and Gladys to accept his enlistment and go to Germany for two years. Here's another unwelcome change to the timeline, showing Gladys' death even before Elvis was called up to Texas for his first part of his military service. In reality, Elvis threatened to defect because the army command did not want to allow him to see his sick mother, getting through Parker a two-day permit - Gladys dying at the end of the first.

Germany, 1959. We've reached the point in the story where Elvis meets Priscilla. Nothing is mentioned here about her being only 14 years old and having allegedly manipulated then-boyfriend Currie Grant into introducing her to the singer. The alleged manipulation used by her was brought by Grant to court in the 1980s, when Priscilla sued him for saying he had compromising photos of her in 1959. Currie lost the case, but was reportedly paid a sum of money to return photos that the defense of Priscilla said they didn't exist.

"Elvis was a young man and he was distracted, so we made movies faster and cheaper." Greater truth could not exist. After omitting the sensational first 4 Elvis films, Luhrmann sums up well the time Elvis spent in Hollywood in the 1960s, making increasingly mediocre films accompanied by soundtracks with the same tone.

Elvis's change in behavior regarding the direction of his career begins to appear in 1968. There is a beautiful and necessary poetic license here when Steve Binder tells Elvis that his film career is "in the toilet" and convinces him to make a TV special completely different from the Christmas show Parker wanted. What the film omits is that the Colonel did everything he could to make Elvis feel rejected by the public, including hiding tickets for filming of the special and not sending them to dealers. The audiences were just made up of lucky people who were close to the studio and saw it for free.

Although this is the most solid part of the film, again the feeling of telling a STORY and not HISTORY appears. There is no mention of the entry of a key character in Elvis and Priscilla's life from then on: Mike Stone. In fact, there is no mention of the real reason for the couple's separation, which was the already established relationship with Stone.

The Colonel's heart attack and Elvis' attempt to break up with Parker in 1969 are topics covered quickly here. Through a psychological manipulation that only a psychopath would be able to do, the old man pulls an ace up his sleeve and convinces Elvis to stay in Las Vegas instead of going on a world tour. At least this historical fact could not be turned into a story, although the film jumps directly to the recordings of That's the Way it is in 1970.

There is a big mess of timelines here, since, still in August 1970 in Las Vegas, Elvis starts receiving death threats. This is a fact and the date is close to correct, but the sequence of images and events puts the great invasion of the stage and the fight that followed in 1973 as still in 1970. Another fact of 1973, his first public internment in Memphis Memorial Hospital, was linked to the year 1972 and Elvis On Tour.

In this plot, Priscilla leaves Elvis in 1973 right after Elvis shoots a TV set. In reality, she announced that she would be leaving on December 24, 1971 at Graceland, leaving the property on the 31st in an apparent attempt to spoil the family's festivities. She would tell Elvis about Stone on January 26, 1972, the day of his first show of that year. The TV set being shot happened in 1975 and Linda Thompson was there. There is a misplaced protection and distortion here, perhaps because the film was closely supervised by those interested in the STORY rather than the HISTORY.

The following events are also distorted from their reality. The May 21, 1977 event, when Elvis collapsed in the hotel before his show in Louisville, Kentucky, and had to be revived by placing his head in a bucket of ice water has been moved to 1973. Elvis falls in the hallway of the hotel, in front of everyone, which never happened. Elvis wears a 1972 jumpsuit during the 1974 show in which he talks about finding out the Colonel was "an alien", a mistake that could have been avoided. Finally, the fight Elvis had with Parker in his hotel room in the early hours of September 4, 1973 is transferred to the stage in 1972. Talk about poetic license!

The sequence of errors or licenses continues as Elvis wears 1977 clothing at a 1974 event that also did not take place as shown. As told by several friends and people close to him, Priscilla never really stopped to talk seriously with Elvis and find out how he was doing - there was conversation, but not deep.

The conversation scene takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana, on June 26, 1977, the day of his last show, making audiences who don't know Elvis' true HISTORY - and perhaps even fans - think that the STORY they've been together until the end is true. In fact, Linda Thompson, who was omitted from the film - as was Ginger Alden - was his biggest comforter from 1972 onwards.

"The film goes all the way to 1977," said the director and producers. But it's not the case. As always, we have a film that only goes up to 1973 and touches on quick facts of the following four years. The only scene in 1977 is the reproduction of Elvis singing "Unchained Melody" that is seen at the end - with rather dubious makeup on Butler - and nothing else, as facts from that year have been moved to 1973.

The film ends with brief seconds on Elvis' death, a tribute to the June 21, 1977 rendition of "Unchained Melody" and footage from his 1971 Jaycee's speech. There is an explanation at the end about the lawsuits against Parker for the abuse he practiced with Elvis, what he did with the rest of his life and the importance of Elvis to music.
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SOUNDTRACK

To promote the film, RCA and Sony produced a 36-track soundtrack that includes new remixes of original versions of Elvis and collaborations with artists such as Eminem, Doja Cat, PNAU, Les Greene, Swae Lee, Kacey Musgraves, Shonka Dukureh, Tame Impala, Austin Butler, and others.

The soundtrack was released the same day as the film on all digital platforms and on double CD. Prior to that, a series of singles began airing on June 3, 2022.







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