Elvis movie: Baz Luhrmann says biopic wont lionise King ‘Its not really about his life’

Tom Hanks shows off new haircut for role in Elvis film

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Next summer the long-awaited Elvis Presley biopic from Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann hits cinemas. The filmmaker began his creative journey on the film with 18 months spent in an office barn at The King’s home of Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. There he had access to the Presley archives to research the movie before shooting in his native Australia with Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as The Colonel.

Since filming on the Elvis movie has wrapped, Baz has been busy in post-production, editing the film in a theatre modelled on The King’s Hilton suite during his Las Vegas residency.

Speaking with the Australian Financial Review, the 58-year-old said he never knows if he’s happy with his films, but said confidently he has no doubt in the quality of the performances by his two leads to carry the story.

Baz said: “Just when I think I’ve seen or experienced it all, I end up making a film about Elvis by myself on the Gold Coast – and being wowed by it.

“It’s energised, enlivened me to find myself at my age back in a place not unlike where I grew up. I really surf change … the energy never scares me. I love to be lifted up by it.”

Although despite this being an Elvis biopic, Baz says the movie is more about the era The King sang in than about the man himself.

The director explained: “When I look at musical biography, it’s not really about the life.

“I’m not about lionising Elvis. I just saw him as the best canvas on which to explore America in the modern age, the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.”

For Baz “the engine of that drama” is the relationship between The King and his manager, the former circus carny Colonel Tom Parker.

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Baz said: “I saw this story of the Colonel and Elvis as a really great prism through which to explore the latter part of the 20th century.

“Elvis represents what happens when a kid lives in one of four designated white houses in a black community.

“Something new comes about, a fusion between country and African-American music, gospel and country-and-western music.”

As for The Colonel, to the director, he represents the other quality in America, “the big sell”.

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Baz added: “The tension between the two is great when they’re in balance.

“But when they’re thrown out of balance, and it just becomes about exploiting and selling and ceases to be creative, then the world’s out of whack … and the world seemed to move that way some years ago.”

The new movie is expected to be a musical, so presumably, The King will sing his hits as the film follows the key beats of his life and career like Elton John’s Rocketman.

Elvis hits cinemas on June 3, 2022.

READ THE FULL AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW ARTICLE HERE

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