The sad star will never die

They are two episodes whose total duration is 215 minutes. That is the basic information that the viewer should know if they want to tune into Netflix the documentary or docuseries (as they are called today) Elvis Presley: The Searcher, which in its country of origin, the United States, was released three years ago. If you are not attracted to this type of film with the real life of another (almost always famous) as the focus of the investigation and you prefer to skip it, I recommend that you pay attention at least to the soundtrack, Elvis Presley: The Searcher (The Original Soundtrack). It is made up of 18 songs, including some emblematic ones (Heartbreak Hotel, Hound Dog, Are You Lonesome Tonight?, It’s Now or Never, Y Suspicious Minds) and others in alternative versions, which gives a unique and necessary character to the album whose recordings were made between July 1954 and February 1976, the year before the singer’s death.

As anyone can guess, about a legend with no expiration date like Elvis Presley, countless films and documentaries have been made (one of them repeated ad nauseam on the History Channel), occupying the first position in the list of stars whose life and career is the center of the story. As a regular follower of any documentary material on Presley, whose music has been with me for as long as I can remember (even in the most irrational moments of life), I consider this to be one of the best documentaries made about the singer who, like no other another has represented the American condition for mango and is still a synthesis of the culture that defined modern times from the beginning to the present.

The main person in charge of the undisputed quality of the docuseries is its director, Thom Zimny, talented as few in this type of subject, whose filmography dedicated to music has peaks such as Wings for Wheels: The Making of Born to Run (2005, a film for which he won a Grammy and was his directorial debut), The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town, Y The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash. After the movie about Presley he directed Springsteen on Broadway, very good too and available on Netflix. If you pay attention to the filmography of Zimny ​​made to date – an “official” documentary filmmaker on Bruce Springsteen’s work: they were both born in the state of New Jersey – you can agree with me that the American director is becoming a master at this type of matter, in which it is about reporting from an objective point of view from things that had not been taken into account by reality. Zimny ​​appeals to free narrative forms, which gives his films a tone of unpredictability, even when we thought we knew everything about the figure he deals with.

Archival work that stands out in Elvis Presley: The Searcher it is relevant, especially for having the ellipsis as an ally, since kilometers of footage rescued from oblivion have been summarized in what can be considered essential. The synchrony between image and voice was worked from different angles, involving all those who had a direct or tangential but important relationship with the idol whose splendor has not been diminished by the passage of time, although today there are many young people who they say they don’t know who Presley was or are too interested in meeting him.

Elvis was a strange, contradictory type, difficult to catch in a synthesis that seeks to be more or less exact. He was not interested much, rather little, the music of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and his political ideas had a lot of nonsense, but since they coincided with a time when nonsense was installed even in government houses, their ideological paraphernalia It happened as a rarity, as a magnet for curiosity. One of the many musicians interviewed, Tom Petty synthesized in one sentence the dimension of Presley in the context of times, such as those in which he lived, which in many aspects –especially the musical– had everything to be fundamental: roadmap and a path was forged of what to do and what not to do ”. Perhaps the main failure of the film, perhaps the only one, is the condescending perspective that it broadly assumes, trying to make the viewer feel almost sorry for everything that Presley had to experience, without taking into account that he was a luminary, a being flesh and blood human who chose his own destiny and therefore, the responsibility for his actions corresponded to him.

Elvis Presley, was, is and will be “trend”. In addition to the documentary directed by Thom Zimny, Elvis will be released on June 3, 2022, a “biographical drama” that Australian director Baz Luhrmann (Romeo + Juliet, de William Shakespeare, Red Mill!) is completing and has been working on since 2014. 27-year-old Californian Austin Butler, who acted in recent films The Dead Don’t Die, the Jim Jarmusch, y Once Upon a Time In HollywoodQuentin Tarantino will play Elvis. The film is not an exhaustive biography of the singer’s life, since it covers only the 20 years that the troubled relationship lasted with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who will be played by Tom Hanks. Considering that there is an industry of impersonators of the singer in the world, the choice of Butler, whose face does not bear much resemblance to Presley’s, was surprising, although Luhrmann reported that many candidates presented the casting and that the winner was chosen by her “ability to evoke the singular natural movement and vocal qualities of this unparalleled star, but also her inner vulnerability.”

Elvis and the actor who will play him in the new fiction: Austin Butler

As timeless as the anthem of an imaginary country where all human emotions are honorary citizens, Elvis Presley is the universal heritage of modern times. To save himself from the age that haunted him (old age horrified him and he avoided looking in the mirror during the last months of his life), he stepped out of time in advance. He died at age 42, on August 16, 1977. His was a case of eternity before sunset. He left the music quietly heading for a five-star beyond, where he was the encore. Presley was his law and Presley his genealogy. According to the forensic report, he died of a heart attack. There are those who believe that he got out of hand with sleeping pills. If so, his death was like falling asleep: the last thing he had on was blue pajamas. Others think that he is still alive so as not to die and say they have seen him in many places, in Canada, several times. Presley was fat, losing his hair and hungry all the time: he couldn’t stop eating hamburgers. I mean, he looked like a complete human being. Apparently – and it is, because they could see it – he looked like a real person. That’s what he was king for. In one of his aphorisms, Oscar Wilde wrote: “It is personalities and not principles that move the era.” Presley’s era still is. Bill Clinton said that Elvis, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the hamburger and television were the main protagonists of the twentieth century. In that regard, just like the documentary Elvis Presley: The Searcher It bears witness to this, the twentieth century is not over yet.

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