Following the Elvis mania that erupted following the release of Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 camp film of the same title – the film that catapulted Austin Butler into the stratosphere of popularity and created Elvis-mania among a group of kids, roughly 50 Was away from the king for years. The idea of an audience cheering for their new king – in the last showdown of rock and roll – seemed not only far-fetched but impossible. However, as a person, Elvis deserves condemnation in many ways. While his questionable use of music written by black artists is an oft-cited criticism of his, a more serious action of Elvis goes beyond speculation: his courtship and marriage to his wife Priscilla Presley.
Elvis met Priscilla when he was 24 and she was 14. Therefore, not only is there a huge power imbalance in the couple due to their different statuses, but there is also an illegal element at the centre. Of this romance: Priscilla was groomed by Elvis.
However, if you’ve seen the Luhrmann film, there’ll be almost no way of knowing this. The couple’s meeting in Germany is brief, there is no mention of their ages, and the actress playing Priscilla appears to be in line with her realistic age. Olivia DeJonge, who played Priscilla in “Elvis”, was in her twenties at the time of her performance and she portrays that older age on screen. Thankfully, however, Coppola takes a different approach. From the audience’s first interaction with Priscilla Beaulieu in “Priscilla” it is clear that she is a young teenager. She wears very little makeup, has the classic Teenie Bopper bangs and ponytail, and in the early scenes she has a very shy, youthful energy. But, beyond that, his age is explicitly mentioned several times in the film. It is an unavoidable reality that Priscilla is a child interacting with a superstar.
This dynamic becomes worse as she ages, particularly in the development of Priscilla’s iconic look of heavy makeup and teased jet black hair. Many people may believe that Priscilla developed her own unique style, and the Luhrmann film is based on this belief. “Elvis” reveals that after her time abroad, Priscilla simply begins appearing in her iconic look, as if she’s decided that dating a superstar requires the appearance of a superstar. However, in fact, according to his book “Elvis and Me”, “Priscilla” makes it clear that Elvis designed them. With scenes of Elvis micromanaging her clothing, make-up, and hair, it is clear that its lack of acknowledgment in Presley’s book shows that Elvis’ grooming and control over the young girl was to a great extent. Was not recognized.
During this rapid progression of Elvis’s tightening grip on the relationship, the audience in the theater while I was watching the film gradually became indifferent to The King. The fact that he is played by Jacob Elordi caused people to cheer and scream when he initially appeared on screen, but, as Elvis’ personality was gradually revealed, those cheers ranged from gasps to groans. Turned into outward expressions of resentment, leading to a shocking moment. ,
While Priscilla Presley has made it clear that in the book Elvis never technically physically abused her, he certainly had aggressive tendencies that were made clear in “Priscilla”. In particular, during one scene in the film, Elvis threw a chair at the side of Priscilla’s head – leading to one of the most surprising displays of physical violence within the film. In response, something that had seemed impossible a year earlier happened in the theater with resounding cheers: the audience jeered Elvis. At this moment, harsh reality hit them and the audience finally had to take off the rose-colored glasses with which they had been watching Elvis for the previous year. Ultimately, they have a full picture of The King’s problematic side. Yet, while the film adequately shows Elvis’s abuse, we never get to see Priscilla’s liberation.
“Elvis and Me” describes not only Priscilla’s marriage to Elvis, but also the outcome of that relationship: how she left Elvis to get her own life and success. Most notably, after Elvis’s death, she became the manager of Graceland and Elvis’s estate, almost single-handedly preserving his legacy for decades to come and making her Tennessee home one of the most visited places in the country. Made one. While the film ends with Priscilla achieving this freedom by leaving Elvis, the audience never really gets the opportunity to see her become that free person. This is especially frustrating, because the audience sees a lot of Priscilla’s abuse but never experiences her growth from it.
Sofia Coppola’s films famously aestheticize femininity, and “Priscilla” is no exception to this pattern. However, the option of aestheticizing abuse without any liberation can be dangerous. It leaves the audience with a list of obvious visual knowledge and abuse while leaving only the imagination of freedom. With that disparity in information, people could potentially fall in love with the idea of a young girl going through horrific abuse. But hopefully the audience’s reaction is a harbinger of hope – they have now criticized Elvis and will hopefully always have disdain for his actions.