Elvis: film review

Poster for the music film Elvis (c) Warner Bros.

It took a long time for the biopic Elvis to find its way into the cinemas. The story of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is told by director Baz Luhrmann in no less than 159 minutes and using opulent images. Is going to the cinema worth it?

Already in 2014 it became known that the Australian film director Baz Luhrman (“William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet“, “Moulin Rouge!“) wanted to dedicate a biography to the life of the music icon Elvis Presley. The rather unknown actor Austin Butler (The Shannara Chronicles, The Carrie Diaries) was able to assert himself for the role of Elvis in 2019. He is joined by Tom Hanks as Elvis’ manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Due to COVID-19, however, production had to be paused for a long time and the theatrical release was delayed accordingly.

Baz Luhrmann brings “elvis‘ his very own vision on the big screen: he not only wrote the screenplay, he also produced and directed the mammoth project, which cost 85 million US dollars. And his handwriting is already unmistakable when the film begins with many cuts, rapidly changing background music and picture collages. Here not only twenty years in the life of Elvis are told, no, here a well-known story is implemented in a varied way with creative ideas.

In addition to the singer, the focus is also on the “Colonel“, from whose perspective the meteoric rise of a working boy is shown, with his very own assessment of the events. Colonel Tom Parker is regarded as Elvis’ discoverer, who takes him under his wing in 1955 and manages to make the unknown 19-year-old a millionaire in a very short time. With his experience in politics and the circus, he can also score points as a promoter in the music business, even if he has no idea about music. But Parker knows he can sell young Elvis for the first time when he sees his hip swing on the Louisiana Hayride.

The inexperienced Elvis signs an exclusive contract with Parker, is soon able to give his beloved mother Gladys (Helen Thomson) a pink Cadillac and moves into Graceland with the extended family. But the busy Parker doesn’t act that unselfishly, because what’s most important to him is how much his new star earns for him. The film version supports allegations that he has Elvis’ health on his conscience in the long term.

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