Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” Brings the King of Rock and Roll to a New Generation

Kathryn Vlaanderen, News Editor

During the Labor Day in between family festivities and holiday events, I watched Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” movie released June 24 – it was a chaotic, wild ride. 

         The biopic takes a new spin on the biography of Elvis Presley, who is played by Austin Butler. The film rocks the life story from the actors to the cinematography that is just a spot-on adaptation of this American icon.  

The “Elvis” film touches on the haunting premature death of Elvis’s brother, Jesse, his devotion to his mother, Gladys (Helen Thompson), and his controversial relationship with his secretive manager, Col. Tom Parker (portrayed by Tom Hanks.) 

Butler plays a convincing Elvis Presley from the first “wiggle” of those hips that got him arrested in Florida and banned from performing for a period to the last second of the movie. Butler portrays the “King of Rock and Roll” perfectly from his low soulful voice to his fancy blue-suede shoes.  

The movie takes you on a journey from Elvis’s beginnings on Beal Street, his rise to stardom, his marriage to Priscilla Presley as well as the birth of his daughter, Lisa Marie. The film also touches on his struggles with prescription pills and his iconic residency in Las Vegas, Nevada and his home at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Butler’s hard work and talents certainly showed his potential to become a beloved, household name in the entertainment industry with this remarkable performance.   

Hanks’s portrayal of the infamous Tom Parker shows us the darker side of the music business. Hanks is barely recognizable in this sinister role as the ominous “Snowman” that controlled the entirety of Elvis’s career. This fact is very relatable because it shows some of the consequences of managers, behind the scenes of some of the stars today like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.  

The film tells Elvis’s story from the “snowman’s” perspective as he narrates the rise and fall of one of America’s most iconic and beloved singers. The tone and cinematography blends real-life coverage of the real Elvis Presley with filmed scenes of Butler perfectly to show factual evidence while providing the audience with a unique experience.  

This was a move that entertains the older generation while introducing Elvis to a new generation of devoted fans. One remarkable thing to point out about Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” biopic is the fact that the film doesn’t shy away from the pivotal moments in history that occurred during Elvis’s time like the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy to the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. This choice to not only take a couple of seconds away from Elvis is important but it shows that Elvis really cared about what happened to the African American community that inspired his drive for music and talents as a rockstar.  

Baz Lurhmann’s biopic, “Elvis,” is available now on HBO Max and most streaming services.