Elvis

Elvis ★★★★★

At every ovation, Baz Luhrmann returns with an encore more extravagant than the last. 

“Elvis” is all sensation, sound and excess. 

Starting with the Red Curtain Trilogy, there has been a certain rhythm to Luhrmann’s genre of film:

A narrator who has witnessed an operatic tragedy. A wild setting of frenzied creation and celebration. A prodigious newcomer of extraordinary presence or talent. Obsession that warps into mania that inevitably explodes into a fiery downfall. 

A familiar beat doesn’t mean that the sound ever gets old though. Luhrmann’s song just gets louder. And louder. 

Comparing the protagonists of Luhrmann’s works, Elvis is reminiscent of the ethereal Jay Gatsby more than “Moulin Rogue’s” Christian or DiCaprio’s as “Romeo.” All four are running from an ordinary life; possessing a furious need to escape that manifests in the chaos of the film’s form itself. But Gatsby and Elvis - have the cocaine kick of addiction to ambition. 

It is in this, that they undo themselves as the protagonists of their own stories, and this leads the volume of their movies to exceed the limit of maximum amplification. 

Christian writes his own end, and Romeo composes poetry to reflect the desert of his angsts soCal mindscape. Elvis and Gatsby are, themselves, their greatest creations. 

This makes it only too appropriate that it is in these two films that Luhrmann attains the pinnacle (so far) of his particular tone of directorial anarchy. He seizes the narrative from Elvis and Gatsby, saturating it across representation, environment, and medium. 

Elvis’ desire to fly manifests in comic book style panels that split through frames. His entrancement with Beale Street black culture rises to the pitched mania of a modern rap song breaking through the eras. Colorful title cards from Elvis flicks fracture his persona into so many sensational images. 

There is always more. 
More sensation. 
More sound. 
More excess. 

And eventually; fame, and form, overwhelm Elvis.

Luhrmann, though, makes it all but impossible to resist the ambition to immolate alongside him in the fiery, impassioned applause that substitutes for love.

Still, to come back onstage for another encore. Another chance at love.


Edit: My mom saw the movie and told me to bump this up to five stars, so like Elvis would for his momma, I’m doing just that. 

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