As you may have read, I analyzed A24’s “Priscilla” (2023) last semester with a focus on themes of control and manipulation. Many of those who enjoyed watching the “Elvis” (2022) film were either fans before or were interested in learning more about his life and experiences.
I will begin by stating straight off the bat that I still, to this day, have not watched “Elvis” and may get around to it eventually. I feel, however, that the narrative of “Priscilla” transcends the theme of troubled rock stars, and instead highlights the individuals that their troubled lifestyles may have harmed. Elvis Presley took advantage of a young girl and used his power to build a life, one that existed on a foundation of substance abuse and control.
Many younger women and men, including myself, have dealt with the feeling of wanting somebody that they do not feel worthy enough of having. Unfortunately, many of those in power can sense this and use it to their advantage, at the expense of anybody willing to give, and give and give.
Aside from the message itself, the film perfectly integrates color themes throughout that show the darkening of two individuals that started out as young lovebirds. Despite me never having watched the “Elvis” film, I know there will always be productions that tell the stories of artists and their journeys; take “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018) and “Rocketman” (2019), for example. How many films have been made about the lovers along the way that were held on a string to suffer from the idolized individuals’ behaviors?
I have one main reason for arguing this side: representation. The “smaller” voices of society deserve to be heard, and “Priscilla” exists as a prime example.
Riley Kearns: “Elvis” (2022)
When I think of Elvis Presley’s life I think of one word: camp. His career was extravagant, glitzy and tragic, and that was clearly shown throughout the entirety of “Elvis” (2022). Baz Luhrmann’s film style was perfect to portray The King’s wild life and even took on a unique point of view that not many people knew about before.
With titles like “The Great Gatsby” (2013) and “Moulin Rouge!” (2001) under his belt, Luhrmann’s over-the-top film style is widely renowned for creating immersive cinematic experiences. When you go see a Luhrmann movie, you’re going to see art. With his visually enchanting and emotionally compelling storytelling, Luhrmann creates memories from a trip to the movie theater. Presley’s story fits perfectly with Luhrmann as he can truly depict the wins and losses just as they really happened.
Detailing themes of capitalism, racism and religion, the story does not just focus on how successful and rich Presley was, but shows the inner workings of what it took to get him there. It shows how Colonel Tom Parker attached himself to Presley like a leech and slowly sucked the life right out of him. For the first time, viewers see behind the jumpsuits and leather and see just how convoluted Presley’s story really is. This balance between decadence and deception makes “Elvis” the perfect depiction of Presley’s tumultuous life.
While “Priscilla” was a great movie, and I admittedly believe that Jacob Elordi is jaw-droppingly gorgeous, it falls short of what “Elvis” was able to produce. During “Elvis,” viewers are taken on an emotional rollercoaster, exploring ultimate highs and deafening lows, while “Priscilla” stays relatively depressing throughout. When I want to go see a movie, I want to feel an array of emotions, so I will choose “Elvis” over “Priscilla” every time.