(Directed by Baz Luhrmann, Gold Coast premiere, June 2022) [Editor’s note: Rock biopics have greatly improved of late, such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman. It was only a matter of time before some ambitious director ‘Followed That Dream’ and tackled the life of Elvis Presley, one of the most significant cultural figures of the twentieth century. Our guest reviewer, Andrew Brown, the biggest Elvis Tragic we know, attended the Gala Premiere on Queensland’s Las Vegas, the Gold Coast (or “Goldy”) with family in tow, to report on proceedings.]
We attended the Red Carpet event on the Goldy on 4 June, under the pretense of taking Jodie shopping at Pacific Fair Shopping Centre – our first red carpet ever, and it was worth the lining up (I lined up while Jodie shopped) – secured front row, to see and hear Baz, Tom (Hanks), Austin (Butler), Olivia (DeJonge) and all the cast. Seemed to be a lot of love in the air by all on the carpet – I suspect due to being together for over 2 years, on and off, on the Goldy, through COVID. Then the Premiere screening occurred on 23 June 2022.
I thought the film captured the essence of The King – born to sacrifice his life to change forever the World of Music, leaving a legacy which lives stronger all the time, which is ironic as Elvis’ biggest fear was that he would not be remembered and it would all be over in his life time.
Having visited Memphis, Graceland, Beale St, Sun Recording Studio and surrounds, the recreation of those places on the Goldy was amazing, a stepping-back in time – ever since I visited, I have thought that to have been in that part of the World in the 50’s would have been like living in the centre of the universe, in terms of the change and excitement.
The film’s focus on Elvis’ spiritual side is appropriate, in terms of music and life. And just as Elvis hit his peak following the TV “comeback” special and the start of his Vegas career, his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, signed his life away, obligating The King to play unprecedented numbers of concerts, in order to cover the Col’s gambling debts. In the end, Elvis effectively gives up his wife and child, to keep performing, with the assistance of Dr. Nick’s drugs, with no genuine wellbeing support from his manager, father or mates – he needed his fans more than his family: very sad, but what a legacy. We loved it and aim to see it again. And for a post-movie session, we headed to a late lunch at Rick Shores restaurant in Burleigh Heads – according to Baz, one of the reasons he so loved the Goldy!