The Baz Luhrmann movie on the director's life
Truth is a slippery thing for Elvis, therefore he often fudges the facts.
Nonetheless, the film stays true to history in a few key respects.
History of Elvis Presley as Told by His Fans
How close to reality does the film get
It's not immediately clear if the new Elvis Presley movie is based on a true event or how accurate the biopic actually is, but Baz Luhrmann's newest extravagance, Elvis, gives a typically showy look at the life of The King.
The film's real-life inspirations are evident in the cast, which includes Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, and a host of other actors playing actual celebrities.
But as with every Luhrmann production, authenticity takes a back seat to flash.
The topic calls for a method like this, therefore it makes sense.
Elvis tells the story of The King's rise from relative obscurity to global icondom via the eyes of Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) in a sequence of flashbacks.
It's arguable that Elvis Presley doesn't give a whole picture of the relationship between Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker, which was tense at times but ultimately fruitful.
It's clear that certain moments are completely made up or twisted so that Parker may be portrayed as the villain.
The new Elvis Presley film also exaggerates other aspects of the singer's life.
Luhrmann's near-idolatrous tale requires some simplifications, both in terms of Elvis's entertainment career and his character.
Some of the major deviations from Elvis Presley's actual life are listed here.
There have been a number of alterations made to the Elvis Presley biopic, most of which concern Colonel Tom Parker.
In the film, Parker is shown as a completely self-centered and venal guy whose proposals would have led to disaster if Elvis hadn't intervened.
Early in the film, for instance, Parker tries to get Elvis to moderate some of his antics in order to appease more traditional audiences.
Similarly, he is seen attempting to insert Christmas music and sweaters into Elvis' 1968 return special.
Some of these false claims were as far from the reality as Hanks' heavily phony accent.
Author and music writer Alanna Nash, who published a highly regarded biography of Colonel Tom Parker and Elvis in 2010, is a reliable resource for information about those pivotal years.
Nash has disproved a number of Elvis's claims in an interview with Variety.
Despite Parker's requests that Elvis tone down his more risqué performance antics, Nash claims that Parker "loved it that Elvis performed what pulled folks into the huge tent."
She continued by saying, "In Parker's eyes, Elvis was just like the sassy carnival females, so the fact that he performed striptease like a man was a huge plus.
Tickets were sold because of that!"
The claim that Parker was intimidated by the government in an effort to curtail Elvis' problematic performances was also debunked by Nash, demonstrating the differences between the film and history.
Presley, Elvis, and the Way He Evolved
Of all the liberties taken with Elvis Presley in this film, turning Colonel Tom Parker into a clear-cut villain stands out as the most glaring.
The new Elvis Presley film, in particular, takes some liberties with the genuine singer's formative musical inspirations and interpersonal connections.
For instance, Alanna Nash clarifies in an interview with Variety that according to the film, it is not true that all of Elvis' major musical inspirations were Black.
When stated in Nash's words: "As early as seventh grade, Elvis said that he was going to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, demonstrating that he was influenced by both black and white musicians.
Just think, as a kid he sang "Old Shep" in a talent show, and crooning about a dog that's already passed away is about as country as it gets." This demonstrates how simplistically Elvis describes the origins of Presley's indisputable skill.
Additionally, Elvis Presley the guy undergoes a number of transformations.
Baz Luhrmann's Elvis omits a lot of Elvis's complicated love life. This oversimplified portrayal of The King's romantic life includes his wife Priscilla in a major role but entirely leaves out his subsequent lovers Ginger Alden and Linda Thompson.
According to Nash, the film's portrayal of Presley's advances toward 14-year-old Priscilla Beaulieu is "sanitized," which is an argument in favor of a more realistic portrayal of the events. The relationship between Elvis and his manager has also been rewritten to make it seem better than it actually was.
Even Nash admits that the sequence in which Presley fires Parker onstage is fictional.
Even while it is undeniable that Elvis is not a documentary in any sense, it does give some insight into the guy.
Some of Elvis's past is questioned because of creative liberties taken with the characters.
The inclusion of songs by modern artists like Doja Cat and Eminem on the Elvis soundtrack hints that accuracy to the historical record is not a top priority for Luhrmann. Nonetheless, we must stress the significance of a few historical shifts that have a bearing on the plot of the film. The latest Elvis Presley biopic, for instance, centers on Elvis' close relationships with other musicians like BB King, although it's questionable whether or not they genuinely knew each other.
Nash elaborates in a another interview [via USA Today] that, "Elvis and B.B. knew one other, but they weren't very close.
It's likely that they briefly met each other at Sun Studio for the first time."
Just as some of the details of Elvis' backstory have been changed for dramatic effect, so too have some of the circumstances surrounding these incidents.
For example, it's not quite certain that Parker's gambling debts (which were obviously substantial) were directly related to Elvis' Vegas residency.
Like Elvis' Army career, which the singer claims was a method to avoid jail time for indecency, was actually more of a PR coup organized by Parker.
These are only a few instances of the ways in which the film embellishes the life of Elvis Presley for dramatic effect.
Just How Reliable Is Elvis?
Images of Elvis Presley, Colonel Tom Parker, and Big Mama Thornton from the Elvis