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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

Good news for moms everywhere: Elvis biopic set to release this year

The iconic musician and public figure is the perfect subject for a biopic, which is why I’m so hyped for this movie.
Hugh Stewart
AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has left the building. “Elvis,” on the other hand, has just dropped a trailer—and it looks gooood. The 2022 biopic about the “King of Rock and Roll” will be released to all theaters on June 24, but we got a sneak peek of the trailer and had the privilege of watching director Baz Luhrmann and star Austin Butler chat about how they created “Elvis.”

The trailer and the interview both confirmed that “Elvis” is, ironically, not exactly from Elvis’s point of view. The movie emphasizes the relationship “The King” had with the infamous Colonel Tom Parker, who discovered and managed Presley throughout his career. Parker is usually described as the bad guy in Elvis’s story, as someone who practically owned him financially and psychologically. However, Parker is surprisingly portrayed by Tom Hanks in this movie, who is usually typecast as the best person ever.

“There are some who make me out to be the villain of this here story,” Parker says in the trailer, indicating that we are going to watch him try to make a case for his innocence.

In the interview, Luhrmann mentioned why he chose to tell the story from Parker’s POV, comparing “Elvis” to the narrative style in the book (and movie) “The Great Gatsby.”

“It might be called ‘The Great Gatsby’ but it’s actually Nick Carraway’s story,” Luhrmann said.

It’s an interesting decision to shift the perspective from Elvis to Parker, but it makes sense considering how much their relationship shaped the late musician’s career. It would not be an understatement to say that the course of Elvis’s career was determined by the desires of the Colonel. For those who aren’t caught up on the lore, here’s a non-intensive crash course on how much Parker sucked (brought to you by a two-minute visit to Wikipedia):

Yep, Parker is notorious for a reason. (Hustler Multimedia/Alexa White) (Alexa White)

What was equally important to Elvis’s character as Parker’s influence, per Luhrmann, was Black culture. In the trailer, we see a young Elvis visit a Black church, entranced by the soulfulness of the gospel music he finds there.

“If you take [Black culture] out of the story, there’s no story,” Luhrmann said.

Luhrmann’s ingenious intention seems to be showing this tumultuous period of U.S. history through the eyes of Elvis and Parker. The trailer includes the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. and how Elvis reacts to them, as well as his connection to the Civil Rights Movement in general.

“There could not have been a better candidate through which to explore America,” Luhrmann said.

For all of these goals to work, of course, the movie needs a stellar portrayal of the icon himself at the center of it. Butler, in the trailer, seems like he’s doing just that.

“I didn’t look at or read anything that didn’t have to do with Elvis,” Butler said, answering how challenging it was to prepare for the role.

Butler also remarked on the importance of capturing the essence of “The King,” which was hard because of his ever-changing character and stage persona throughout the years.

“He moved very differently in the 50s, 60s and the 70s,” Butler said.

What’s even more impressive about Butler’s performance, which we admittedly have not yet seen, is that some of the singing is actually done by him. Due to an issue with the sound mixing of old records and its incompatibility with modern cinematic techniques, Butler had to learn how to sound like Elvis for some of his concert performances. During the learning process, however, he realized that an exact imitation was not as important as capturing what makes Elvis Elvis.

“Ultimately the life behind [his voice] is what’s important,” Butler said, mentioning how his attempts at being an exact copy limited him. “I had to release myself from that constraint.”

Presley is more than his performances, though, being a paradigm shifter for his actions both on and off the stage. Butler knows this, attempting to embody who Elvis was as a person too.

“Getting to explore the humanity of someone who’s become the wallpaper of society, finding the human within that icon was such a joy,” Butler said.

I am hyped for this movie, not only because I like some of Elvis’s songs (“Suspicious Minds” goes hard) or because my mom used to be such a fangirl that she visited his grave (yikes, I know), but also because the movie and the portrayals feel stylish and unique. For now.

“Elvis” releases in theaters on June 24, 2022. Watch the trailer here.

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About the Contributors
Deniz Orbay, Former Senior Staff Writer
Deniz Orbay (25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science double-majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science and minoring in Cinema and Media Arts. He writes for Life and News, is a big movie nerd and is better than average at every sport in which a ball is used. You can reach him at [email protected].
Alexa White, Former Graphics Director
Alexa White ('23) is from Traverse City, Michigan, and is double-majoring in secondary education and English. When she isn't writing for The Hustler, she is probably teaching, reading or creating art. After graduation, Alexa plans to be an English teacher and hopes to inspire kids to love reading, writing and exploring their creativity in all forms. She can be reached at [email protected].
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