Austin Butler is Elvis Presley and Tom Hanks is his infamous manager Colonel Thomas Andrew Parker in the first trailer for Baz Luhrman’s biopic of one of the most consequential artists in American music. The trailer gives us a quick overview of the story we know — about how an unusually charismatic young White boy schooled in the music of Memphis’ Black churches and obsessed with the flash and fanfare of superhero comics would pool these interests into a force that would transform a nation’s popular culture trajectory. But Presley’s story is also one of exploitation — both of the culture he appropriated and of his own treatment at Parker’s hands.
Parker looks the part alright and Hanks is taking his best stab at a Dutch accent. But of course, the real star of any Luhrman film is the movie itself, and the man behind Moulin Rouge! and Strictly Ballroom doesn’t look like he’s lost his touch for scrumptious visuals. The movie lingers on shots of Butler’s roller coaster hips and frenzied female fans, but that’s easy to get right. The real trick will be accurately threading Presley’s story into the larger narrative of American lore, and how our fraught history was bent through him to create a new future for rock and roll.