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Elvis Presley


17 January 2024

Sofia Coppola’s films are suffused with the bittersweet inevitability of adolescence: a period of life that changes you irrevocably and comes with an in-built ending. Anyone who has studied History at high school knows the outcome of Marie Antoinette (2006). In The Virgin Suicides (1999), it’s right there in the title. This sense of languid doom has never been more apparent than in Coppola’s new biopic Priscilla (based on its subject’s own memoir, Elvis and Me (1985, with Sandra Harmon). We already know how this story ends – so the writer-director invites us to take the scenic route, emphasising texture and psychology over drama and causality.

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20 June 2022

Crafting a biopic is a near-impossible act of curation; of the hundreds of thousands of hours that make up a person’s life, which two and a half will accurately sum up their entire existence? Some recent attempts, like the excellent Steve Jobs (2015) or the Judy Garland biopic Judy (2019), limit their slice of life to a handful of defining moments and allow the viewer to extrapolate from there ...

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Usually the subject’s death signals the end of a biography, but for Dylan Jones it is the starting point. Three decades after his death in 1977, Elvis Presley has proven even more ubiquitous, and lucrative, than he was in life. When he died – with the official cause listed as heart failure, but a vast cocktail of drugs playing an undeniable role – his manager, ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, declared, ‘Why, I’ll go right on managing him.’ And from there Parker helped set the template for a superstar entertainer’s posthumous success.

But that’s not all that Jones, who is Editor of GQ, is interested in here. In truth, it can be difficult to pin down just what he is trying to add to the oversaturated conversation about Presley. Elvis Has Left the Building bears the tagline ‘The extraordinary story of how the rock star who changed everything lives on’, yet Jones takes a more roundabout approach in this book. Jones is a sharp and affable writer, but the book has little in the way of sustained focus. He flits between various themes and anecdotes, and even dips in and out of autobiography.

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