One of the reasons Baz Luhrman’s unique aesthetic hits so hard is that his worlds feel like the sorts of dreamy realities that are familiar to anyone who’s ever fallen in love. Moulin Rogue!, Romeo + Juliet and the rest all feel infused with the dewey heightened drama of being carried away with emotions too big for your body to feel. This makes him a fairly canny pick to make a movie about Elvis Presley, a man who was nothing if not too big for the world he lived in.
Elvis will follow Presley (Austin Butler), his complicated relationship with his manager Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) and their own complicated relationship with an America that was rapidly changing, thanks in no small part to Presley’s unprecedented celebrity. Presley started out as a charismatic white kid schooled in the gospel music of the Black Church. He would pool that education with his love for superhero comic extravagance into a heady brew that would transform the trajectory of popular music.
But the story of Presley isn’t just about a rise. It’s about the exploitation that happened along the way, both in terms of Presley’s appropriation of Black music and Parker’s own exploitation of his ward’s talent. Presley’s hips and the fan frenzy were the headlines, but the real story is how many disparate parts of the American story were bent through this enormously gifted entertainer, elevating him to a status no human was designed to hold.
The movie will also feature a star-studded soundtrack — long one of the perks of a new Luhrman joint — that will feature new music from Chris Isaak, Doja Cat, Eminem, Ceelo Green, Jack White, Stevie Nicks(!) and lots more.