The 1950s was the time of rock and roll music. Still, in its infancy, this genre started to enter the mainstream music scene of the US and later worldwide.
At that time, a man from Tennessee had a massive breakthrough in his career and became known as The King of Rock and Roll in later years.
This is Elvis Presley, the most controversial and iconoclast singer of the 20th century. His adventurous life has been attempted to be depicted on the silver screen many times; the film Elvis is the latest addition to it.
The audience will see the boy from Memphis growing up as a perennial icon of American music, his tumultuous relationships at home and outside, and his saddening ending after falling as a superstar.
Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis Presley is a chef’s kiss. He prepared for this role for a long time and is shown in the film. The pink suit-clad star makes the audience go crazy with his extraordinary range of singing and iconic hip-swivelling, Austin manages to portray the scene perfectly. The glamour and extravaganza of Elvis at the apex of his career are shown wonderfully in this biopic.
But these displays are not the main focus of this film. The plot primarily progresses depicting Elvis’s relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker, another figure controversial for his strained relationship with the superstar. He is played by Tom Hanks, the famous Oscar winner actor, shown wearing a lot of prosthetics for this role. Even the whole film is narrated from his perspective, who was backlashed for his behaviour with Elvis till his death.
But Parker is no saint. A former circus impresario illegally emigrating from the Netherlands, he was not quite successful in promoting musicians until he met Elvis. He decided to give his career an upstart after attending his concert. As Elvis rose to prominence, this is where Parker went greedy.
Elvis openly admired African-American music and his music was also greatly inspired by it. He politically supported the African-American civil rights and their leaders, gaining animosity from the racist populace and getting into many troubles with them.
Though Parker saved Elvis from the dangers many times, he coerced him into performing only best-selling songs while Elvis wanted to be more politically outspoken with his voice. This conflict had a long-term effect on his career, and he gradually cut ties with his manager.
Presley’s relationship in his house was dismantling as well. His strained relationship and divorce from his wife Priscilla and separation from his daughter Lisa were the final breaking straw, leaving him depressed and finding solace in narcotics.
The film’s ending shows his dying moment as a pale, bloated man deep in his sadness, the tragic fall of the biggest cultural icon of the 20th century.
Though this is a biopic of Elvis, he remains in the shadows most of the time except for his glamorous superstar moments. The whole film seems more focused on the manager Tom Parker than Elvis, which was odd.
Moreover, Priscilla Anne Presley had a significant role in Elvis’s life, but she was not given much attention in this film. Director Luhrmann is also seen to avoid the more controversial aspects of Elvis willingly, perhaps not upsetting the star’s family and his fanbase.
Nevertheless, Elvis gives the audience glimpses of his glamorous life which is quite an experience to watch.