three good reasons to see Baz Luhrmann's flamboyant biopic at the cinema

three good reasons to see Baz Luhrmann’s flamboyant biopic at the cinema

Screened out of competition at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, the biopic Elvis about the life of Elvis Presley hits theaters on June 22. Brilliant musical fresco signed by the Australian director Baz Luhrmann (red Mill, The Great Gatsby), this feature film traces the career of Elvis Presley through the eyes of Colonel Tony Parker, the terribly cynical impresario of The King of Memphis. We explain to you in three reasons why it is absolutely necessary to go see this film in theaters.

A transformed Tom Hanks

Nine years after bringing the fictional life of millionaire Jay Gatsby to the screen, Australian director Baz Luhrmann has chosen to immerse himself this time in the existence of a real character: American legend Elvis Presley. But it is through the eyes of the very cynical Colonel Tom Parker, the singer’s impresario who made a lot of money on the back of the star, that the story is told. This is what makes the complexity of this biopic.

Actor Tom Hanks has taken up the challenge of stepping into the shoes of Tom Parker. To pull off the kind of performance Hollywood loves, Tom Hanks made himself up with prosthetics and transformed his voice. After the presentation of the film out of competition at the Cannes Film Festival, the American actor revealed that he knew nothing of the colonel before the filming of the film. “Baz Luhrmann told me that there would have been no Elvis without the colonel. I said to him: ok I go, show me the photo of this colonel. I saw the photo of the colonel , and there… I regretted it'”he admits, laughing.

>> Our review of the film “Elvis”

In ElvisColonel Parker is obnoxious in the last part of the film, when Baz Luhrmann shows how the manager manipulated Elvis’ family to lock up the singer in the golden prison of the Intercontinental Hotel in Las Vegas. But before this sad end, Tom Hanks also plays a visionary Colonel Parker. “I heard a lot about Colonel Tom Parker. The reality is that he saw a young man on stage and he immediately understood that he was an extraordinary force. He is a brilliant man and curious, who took the opportunity to earn a lot of money”explained Tom Hanks on the Croisette.

The revelation of Austin Butler, bluffing in Elvis Presley

Actor Austin Butler had never had the honor of playing a leading role in a big-budget movie before. By bringing the King of rock and roll back to life with crazy realism, he clearly changes dimension.

In Cannes, Austin Butler confided that he had concentrated on this role 100% for two years to get as close as possible to the real Elvis. “I didn’t do anything else for two years. I studied him constantly to find his very deep human nature and interpret it as well as possible”, revealed the actor with the physique and manners of a playboy. In the press room of the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, he spoke in his deep voice, shirt wide open on the chest and slicked back wick.

For months, Austin Butler read so many books and listened to Elvis Presley songs over and over that he almost lost himself in the identity of his role model. “I was told that I no longer looked like myself. I listened to his interviews over and over. Then I would record my voice and listen back to see where my voice was different,” he explained. In the film, he himself sings the Elvis tunes during the concert scenes. And it is a success.

Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) faces off against his agent Colonel Tony Parker (Tom Hanks).   (WARNER BROS)

A great musical show

Baz Luhrmann succeeds with Elvis a very colorful fresco of baby-boomer America, but also and above all a great musical film. By retracing the career of the artist from Memphis, the director explores the influences that shaped Elvis.

In the first minutes of the film, an anthology scene shows how young Elvis, who lived in a black neighborhood of Memphis, falls in love with gospel during a mad musical mass during which he collapses into a trance. . “Elvis absorbed what needed to be absorbed and he immediately became a country genius. We tried to show how a child grows up in a community. Elvis’ music is music that he absorbed with extraordinary black musicians who were not yet known, like BB King”recount Baz Luhrmann.

“Taking hip-hop like in Gatsby allowed you to feel things”

Baz Luhrmann

director of “Elvis”

In the film, it is also shown that when the first songs of Elvis were broadcast on the radio, the inhabitants of Memphis thought they were hearing a black singer. “We studied all of this, we know his love for gospel was real. Right before he died, after two shows, he was still singing gospel until morning. That’s where he felt safe,” continues Baz Luhrmann, who said he was very moved after the twelve-minute ovation at the end of the screening at the Cannes Film Festival.

As he had done in The Great Gatsbyhis previous film made nine years ago, Baz Luhrmann blends contemporary sounds with period music. A choice that he motivates by a desire to reach a young audience and not just a generation that has known the King.

“You have to respect the music and know its classics. We have Elvis who sings, Austin who sings like Elvis. I also wanted to be part of the present. The fact of taking hip-hop as in gatsby allowed you to feel things. All this was composed by two musicians (Anton Monsted and Elliott Wheeler), who worked beautifully with gospel music. I play with music. It’s not just for effect. I do it because I want young people to understand what the first recordings of Elvis mean”says the director.

The film Elvisdirected by Baz Luhrmann, hits theaters June 22.

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