Sawyer Ramsay ’24
Science & Tech Copy Editor
Elvis Presley was no doubt one of the most iconic and important cultural figures of the last century. He changed the worlds of both music and pop culture, making them more diverse. It only makes sense that a movie would be made to honour his life.
The wait is over: Elvis is out, and it provides a different view on his story and focuses on the unexplored aspects of his life, aspects that many people say led him to his death.
The movie begins with a narration by Elvis’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks. He explains Elvis’ beginnings in a poor community where he discovered the blues in Gospel churches. Elvis’ fame begins while touring with a country singer who is managed by Parker. Elvis is known for his vulgar movements and bluesy “black music” (so the public called it). As his fame grows, he signs the Colonel as his manager.
To avoid being arrested for his vulgarity, Elvis serves in the army and meets his future wife, Priscilla. He returns to America and is more accepted among the public. Parker later convinces Elvis to play at the International Hotel in Las Vegas. The hotel agrees to clear Parker’s gambling debts if Elvis keeps returning. Parker works Elvis into exhaustion, pumping him with drugs between shows to keep him energized. By the end of the film, Elvis discovers the Colonel is a fraud without a passport, so he fires him, but gets sued. He is now broke and is forced to hire the Colonel again until his death. The movie ends with Elvis’s emotional last performance where he is worn out but sings with all his heart.
The film takes an interesting perspective on Elvis’s life story but does not stay completely accurate to history. In one scene, Elvis disobeys the Colonel by playing the song “Trouble” and by using vulgar dance movements at a concert while he is supposed to be a reformed Elvis. This scene is not accurate because the song “Trouble” had not been released at the time of the concert and there was not a mosh pit on the stage as it is portrayed in the film.
I enjoyed this film for many reasons. It is well-filmed and uses impressive camera angles and creative transitions. I expected the movie to be centred primarily on Elvis, but it focusses a lot on the Colonel, which is interesting. Tom Hanks’ performance really makes me despise the character as he manipulates Elvis, and all the actors embody their roles incredibly well.
However, I believe that there could be more emphasis on music in this film. There are some scenes where recent music was incorporated into the movie. It just does not feel right to have modern music in a retro atmosphere.
Despite these small shortcomings, the film is extremely well done and helps reveal the vileness of Tom Parker.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures