BY VERONICA GRIFFITH
Over the summer, a biopic musical drama film was released in theaters and quickly became a hit in the box office. With an audience of all ages and a revival of the immortal Elvis Presley, it’s no surprise that Elvis (2022) raked in nearly 270 million dollars globally.
Although Elvis is a household name that has been around for decades now, the legend has, once again, made his way back to the silver screen with a bang. The film, of course, is centered around the man that was dubbed the “King of Rock and Roll” during the Golden Age of Hollywood. With a run time of two hours and 39 minutes, the film not only reintroduces Elvis Presley as a King, but as a human.
I remember watching Elvis in the theater for the first time during its opening weekend and being absolutely mind-boggled by the end of it. I ended up seeing it another two times since then and purchased the movie on Amazon Prime Video just last week. I’m not even sure how to describe what I was feeling as I watched it, but it was close to something of immense joy and being awestruck. Each time I watched it, I felt like I had unconsciously time traveled and got to experience some of Elvis’s most iconic performances live, as if I was in the crowd myself. The weeks following that, I got a job at the same theater and, as greeter, was able to see some pretty interesting people. Many older women came in, dressed head to toe in vintage clothing, neck scarves, and some of their finest Elvis memorabilia. I’ll never know if they actually liked the movie, but there are many aspects to it that make it special.
Baz Luhrmann, who also directed The Great Gatsby (2013) and Romeo and Juliet (1996), did an incredible job on the film. What it takes to make a viewer feel like they’re living out a movie is a technique that is almost impossible to master and has been done by very few filmmakers. However, the success of it was inevitable, down to the costumes, blocking, screenplay, and overall tone. A few notable things would include the recreation of Elvis and Priscilla’s most iconic outfits, and some ‘70s-blockbuster inspired shots.
However, it’s not only accurate in the way of funky-fashion, but it succeeds in creating a real-world take on one of Hollywood’s greatest stars, earning it the attention it’s received.
Unlike many movies that are based in the 1950s-1970s, Elvis not only covers the life of the star, but other controversies and major social events that include the Robert Kennedy assassination, MLK, the Manson Cult murders, and racial segregation in general. By being loyal in regards to the time period and including these events, the movie has a significant amount of soul that can appeal to just about anyone.
As well as having an amazing director and take on the time period, I’d say that while having Austin Butler as part of the cast, this version of the man easily tops any Elvis impersonator or actor that has taken on the role before him. Austin’s acting and reenactments of the events in Elvis’ life are almost scarily accurate. This required him to adopt the distinct southern accent, the way he walks, and some of his signature dance moves, such as the “Rubber Legs.” In comparison to that, in some interviews used to promote the film after its release, Austin mentions imposter syndrome, which is essentially doubting yourself as an actor and your performance while taking on a role and playing a character. This was especially crucial to Austin’s case because he had to portray someone that has been a cultural icon for nearly seven decades. Even Priscilla Presley spoke with Austin about her late husband, informing him that he had big shoes to fill. Fortunately for Austin, his execution of Elvis was so enticing that it is said to be Oscar-worthy and was even complimented by Elvis’ close family.
Overall, the movie does well in what it tries to portray of Elvis Presley and deserves a chance as a well-constructed film.