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Can Baz Luhrman do Elvis Presley Justice?

Can Baz Luhrman do Elvis Presley Justice?

If you are yet to hear, Baz Luhrman director of Moulin Rouge! (2001) and The Great Gatsby (2013) is currently creating a musical drama biopic about the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley. As the project is in very early stages, this post is going to be full of what I believe to be the narrative and whether I trust Luhrman to respectfully tell Elvis’ incredible life story without overly exploiting the details of his contentious personal life.

I am incredibly intrigued by this biopic as I am a fan of the genre and Elvis himself, in the last two years we have been reintroduced to this genre full force in the form of Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and Rocketman (2019), of course biopics are nothing new to Hollywood but the style of movie is defiantly becoming a trend right now, audiences love to see the rise and fall of their favourite stars. Both movies previously mentioned are incredible pictures which depict the lives of some of musics most treasured icons and in my opinion Elvis deserves his own picture more than anyone else. In saying that make sure you get ready for an invasion of biopics heading to Hollywood in the next couple of years, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and even the love story of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. The biopic genre is taking over….

The movie is yet to have a title but I have an incline it will be called ‘Elvis’ or ‘The King’ and after studying the cast list the movies timeline can presumably take place from the beginning of Elvis’ stardom in the mid 1950s. Specifically his first record deal at 22 years old in 1955 with RCA Victor Records. I can assume from the casting of Steve Binder (being played by Stranger Things’ actor Darce Montgomery) the films timeline will continue to 1968, when Binder directed and produced Elvis’ Comeback Special filmed in Burbank, California to announce his return to live performing. Then I’m sure the narrative will inevitably continue to Elvis’ untimely death in 1977 at only 42 years old.

Baz Luhrman apparently has a close relationship with Priscilla Presley, meaning she has been very vocal and has contributed a lot of facts towards the movie, meaning the biopic is going to be very accurate. Which disconcerts Elvis’ daughter Lisa who is scared her mother will reveal too much about her fathers relationship with her and turn their already controversial relationship (because of their age difference in 1959, when they first met Priscilla being 14 and Elvis being 26) into a catalyst in todays climate and era of the ‘Me Too’ movement. Lisa Presley is concerned the movie will create a mass amount of backlash against her father and not appreciate him for his music, which is what the movie should be about but instead overpower his talents with the controversy. Personally I agree with Lisa Presley’s worries, although the beginning and progression of their relationship in the late 50s has always been viewed wrong to the public I hope the movie doesn’t concentrate on these facts and instead presents us an image of Elvis in a respectful, admirable way.

Despite my concerns with some of the potential narrative decisions the cast is looking very promising. Let's discuss The King himself, Austin Butler whom I know from The Carrie Diaries (2013) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019). Honestly, I am a fan of Butler’s work I think he’s a very underrated actor who also happens to have a great likeness to Presley, after learning that Harry Styles, Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller all auditioned for the role Austin Butler is most definitely the right choice physically and I hope he studies Elvis flawlessly. The rest of the cast is just as exciting, the addition of Tom Hanks is very attractive, he adds a completely new dimension to the movie. Hanks is playing the role of Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker, although I do not know a lot about this mysterious character my father is a massive Elvis fan and describes him as forcing Elvis to do jobs he didn’t want to do, squeezing the most amount of money out of Elvis that he could without any regard for what Presley wanted to do. Elvis’ acting career was solely down to Parker signing him to a seven year contract, making twenty movies in that time, that is a lot by the way! Essentially the character of the manager is a very money driven, difficult man who I think Tom Hanks will absolutely triumph, Hanks is known for adapting easily into any role that is thrown at him so I can assume he would easily mould into Colonel Tom Parker.

The rest of the cast seems promising but I’m not going to go into detail about those actors as the most important ones to me have been mentioned, of course the role of Priscilla Presley is going to be interesting considering Priscilla is still alive and able to contribute, the role is being imagined by young actress Olivia DeJonge who I only know from Netflix’s ‘The Society’ (2019). I am excited to see how interpretation as well as Maggie Gyllenhaal as Elvis’ mother and Rufus Sewell as Vernon, his father. In conclusion, I hope this post gave you a little insight into the movie and how I imagine it is going to unfold. I am very excited and incredibly sceptical at the same time. So to answer my question, can Baz Luhrman do Elvis Presley Justice? Yes, I think I trust him to depict the truth to his audiences but I just hope it is done with respect and gratitude.


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Welcome to Film Probe, a platform where I have dedicated my time and energies to reviewing films, tv and more. I pride myself on offering more than just an opinion, but rather a carefully crafted insight into the film's themes, characters, and overall production.

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