The King On The Big Screen

Tiana Pickett-Hanson, Staff Writer

Elvis, the movie, was released on June 24th, 2022. Directed by Baz Lurhmann, it’s rated PG-13 and stars Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as the Colonel. The movie covers the span of Elvis’s life, fame, and career, from when he first discovered soul music to his untimely passing and the legacy he left behind. This movie also shows the poor management and mistreatment of Elvis throughout his career. The movie is 2 hours and 39 minutes long, and it includes many of Elvis’s most famous performances with his personal singing and some of Austin Butler’s singing as well.

The movie begins with the introduction of Elvis’s manager Colonel Tom Parker—also called “The Snowman”—as he tells the story of Elvis’s life and career all while claiming he isn’t responsible for Elvis’s death. As said before, this movie does cover a lot of Elvis’s life. It starts out with a young adolescent Elvis who is playing with his friends when he hears a man singing. When Elvis hears this man he is in awe; then, he finds his way into a church service where he is overcome with the sound and soul of the crowd—that’s where Elvis fell in love with music. One thing that’s important to note is that the man and the crowd were black, in fact, Elvis had grown up in a black neighborhood. Due to this, he grew up adoring and appreciating the music black people made, and this led to quite a few scandals in his career because many didn’t like that he made “black sounding” music.

The movie then jumps to when the colonel first met Elvis. He had saw a young man who “needed guidance,” as the colonel put it. As the movie progresses, you can see Elvis’s fame grow tremendously, though you also see the colonels grip on him tighten. You see key elements of Elvis’s life and how they affected him and how the colonel spins them to his advantage.

The different versions you see of Elvis in this movie are incredible and yet sad. At times, you see a happy young man who is living the dream. Whereas others times, Elvis is sad, lonely, and he acts an empty puppet for the media and for the colonel. The movie ends with Elvis’s death, and it displays the effect it had on the media and all of his adoring fans. The ending goes from Austin Butler portraying Elvis to the real Elvis singing for the last time on stage. It’s a moment that brought tears to my and many others watching eyes. This was a very special moment and it made you remember that this wasn’t just a movie, but someone’s life shown for the world to see.

Austin Butler really did bring this movie to life, as he did an amazing job portraying Elvis. Everyone wants to talk about how he used method acting and so much prep work to achieve this portrayal. After winning a Golden Globe for the movie, he talked about his experience. In the press room after, he told Variety, “During ‘Elvis’, I didn’t see my family for about three years. I was prepping with Baz, and then I went to Australia. I had months where I wouldn’t talk to anybody. And when I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis. I was speaking in his voice the whole time.” Not only did Austin went to those extremes to do his best in the movie, but the rest of the cast was also amazing. This was truly an outstanding cast and they really brought the movie to life.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie. I saw it in theaters and it was an amazing experience. I did feel it was a little long, but looking back I don’t know what they could’ve taken out to make it shorter. Every moment felt so important and so crucial to the feeling and tone of the movie. The cast did an amazing job, and the directorial work was very good as well. Overall this movie was very well done and made me have a better understanding of Elvis as a person, and how his music changed the nation and the lives of so many. I would highly recommend watching this movie for yourself.