Director: Baz Luhrmann
championship: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Helen Thompson
jogging time: 159 minutes
Director Baz Luhrmann took an unabashedly bold and contemporary approach to producing a film about the life and times of Elvis Presley. Elvis is a cultural icon in the mid-20th century, often called the King of rock and roll, due to his being one of the founding fathers of the movement. I admire Elvis and am fascinated by his life story and the music and culture of his time, so I knew there was a lot to include in the movie and was worried about including the main things in it. Indeed, quite a bit of time was amassed into two and a half hours, in a relentless and groovy tale of a dramatic time from the massive cultural shifts that followed Elvis’ rise from poverty to a glamorous showbiz career, until his death in the 1970s.
When depicting an individual’s entire lifespan, I think it’s important to have the “take” of that life, and interpret it to determine what is most important to focus on to make a coherent story. Luhrmann has a very strong view on Elvis’ life; He chose to view it through the lens of the complex relationship between Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. This relationship was very much a typical story of the endless tension between a businessman and a creative artist. The entrepreneur always makes money and does what is tried and trusted, while the artist is always trying to take risks and try new things. The film tells the story of the constant push and pull between a colonel wanting low risk and high rewards for things, while Elvis wanted to make bold new gestures. The film cleverly compares this relationship with the similar tension in the broader culture of the time. Between those who wanted to take society in new directions versus those who had backward and often racist views. Elvis’ life is frequently used as a canvas for exploring America from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Luhrmann has a powerful ability to give a sense of time and place, creating a sense of being transported into different worlds. It shows the southern slum where Elvis grew up, and shows all the sounds, clothes, and landmarks of the time. He then put this to sharp precision by comparing it to the glamor and glamor of the Las Vegas stage of the 1970s. The film seemed to have taken Baz Luhrmann’s hand and exposed Elvis’ world and that time period. As an audience, we get the shocked and stunned expressions on people’s faces in the 1950s as a reaction to Elvis’ dance moves, which aren’t shocking by contemporary standards.
Austin Butler does an amazing job portraying Elvis, especially embodying the energy in his 50’s shows which were truly a sight to behold. Elvis’ appearance is so well known that it will always be a very difficult task for the actor to portray. Austin Butler had a very difficult and stressful job to portray Elvis, with so many other Elvis impersonators, and I think he does it very well. All of the costumes used in the movie were replicas of the clothes Elvis would wear in real life, and it was especially amazing to see in high definition and full color, unlike the grainy black and white photos we have from the 1950s. The scenes of Austin Butler recreating footage of Elvis from the ’70s Vegas theater seem a bit superfluous because we can watch footage of the real Elvis from that period in high quality anyway, but showing his entire career is important to the story.
By turning the ports to the limit, we get an exaggeration of the culture and styles of the era and a bold portrait of a very talented artist who died soon
I found the 1950s portrayal to be the strongest part of the movie, because it really deals with the specific culture and aesthetics of the time. It was important to show how Elvis was inspired by other musicians of the time, especially black musicians who were oppressed by the laws and attitudes prevailing at the time. The film sparkles with time-lapse aesthetics, and what with the sounds of vintage car engines, big-collar-winged T-shirts, dull, greasy hair, glowing pants, and the twinkling yellow headlights of stage lights.
The movie is a carnival ride. It has an unrelenting pace, with pauses in breathing. It felt like it was “over in a flash,” as Elvis says in the movie. Like a rollercoaster ride, it skips the lows and highs of Elvis’s life very quickly and it felt like some of the more emotional moments were a little skipped because of this. This is partly because the director seems to want to cram as much of Elvis’ life into the film as possible. It also appears to have been a stylistic choice to reflect the carnival ideas the Elvis manager had about Elvis’ career. It is noteworthy that the colonel had his background in the carnival scene and the transformation of Elvis into a walking carnival by the colonel is clearly shown in the film. Tom Hanks does a great job portraying a man of questionable and shady character who exploits Elvis numerous times in the film, as well as helping him with his career.
Basically, the movie seems to be all about overkill. It’s a lot of fun to watch and definitely lives up to the sparkling gold labels it advertises. The director has an overused style that fits Elvis’ overly personal style; With sexy cam shots of big sideburns, Napoleon size collars, glowing white jumpsuits with firework designs, devil-eye amber-lens sunglasses and exaggerated energy movements. We see the big Elvis lifestyle – drug abuse, and his insatiable appetite for excitement and the latest fixation. The film introduces this character, along with the colonel’s equally radical approach to business, as the making of Elvis’ success as well as the path to his eventual downfall.
With its frenetic pace, fast camera action, and cheerful soundtrack, the movie feels like you’re watching a huge long rock party. It is exhilarating and somewhat exhausting to watch. By turning the ports to the extreme, we get an exaggeration of the culture and styles of the era and a bold portrait of a very talented artist who died early.
Did you know? Pop star-turned-actor Harry Styles was in the running to play King, but Luhrmann eventually turned him down on the grounds that he was “really an icon”. The director went on to say that Austin Butler “almost played [the role]showing that the Butler performance test strip Unrestricted melody Help close the deal.
Elvis is currently showing on Broadway Cinemas until Thursday, July 7