A splendid turn-out for Elvis. There was a real buzz in the hall before the evening started, with people talking about their Elvis memories and favourite songs. Eugene’s automated introduction amused everyone. Baz Luhrmann’s dizzying, kaleidoscope array of images was stunningly impressive but didn’t hit the spot for a neurodiverse member of the audience, who found his style all very overwhelming.
Whatever your views about Tom Hanks’ prosthetically enhanced pantomime villain portrayal of Colonel Parker, Austin Butler stole the show as a pitch perfect Elvis. The way the film celebrated the black roots of Elvis’s music was an important element. The early scenes in the black church where a young Elvis experiences the uplifting spirit of gospel music were particularly exciting. It is no surprise the film had a twelve-minute standing ovation where it was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.
Due to our equipment playing up in the hall, we moved home, doing the discussion Zoom from our living rooms. A cup of tea was welcomed after such a long film, to be honest. We were delighted to have Gerry from the Elvis Presley Film Society on board and he declared us a great bunch of people. We hope to have Gerry on future discussions, all the way from Glasgow. An expert on everything Elvis, he told us that the portrayal of Parker may have seemed harsh, but it did convey truth about his manipulative relationship with the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Our discussion leader told us Austin Butler and Elvis Presley are 16th cousins twice removed, and that Austin Butler and Elvis were both 23 when they lost their mothers. Austin has said he used his grief in his performance. Regarding Colonel Tom Parker narrating, our discussion leader pointed out the similarity with the film Amadeus and Salieri telling the story, with the viewer left to decide what the truth was. Do we trust Parker in the film, who is self-serving and insists it was the audience’s love that killed Elvis?
I read that there is a film of Priscilla’s story being produced by Sofia Coppola. Perhaps a future one for RCC.