Elvis has brought together both casual fans of The King and ardent aficionados that know every aspect of Elvis Presley's life, proving that Baz Luhrmann's musical biopic has something for everyone to enjoy. Hardcore fans will especially enjoy spotting the Easter eggs and hidden details along the way as they follow The King of Rock 'n' Roll from his early days playing the blues in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Memphis, Tennessee to his glitzy residency in Las Vegas at the International Hotel.
Amidst Presley's rise to stardom, told from the point of view of his oleaginous manager Colonel Tom Parker, is a fun visual scavenger hunt. Clever cinematography, costumes, and props all add an extra dimension to telling the story of one of the most famous entertainers of the 20th century if fans know where to look.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Elvis Clips And Photographs Placed Throughout
In the first scene, when Elvis walks onto the stage wearing a blue jumpsuit and making karate moves, a two-panel split-screen shows Austin Butler on one side and the real Elvis Presley on the other. There are also shots of Elvis in the "Burning Love" sequence and during the montage of his Hollywood career.
Photographs in Colonel Parker's office contain the real Elvis, as do certain newspaper headlines that flash across the screen frequently. Far from a distracting device, the inclusion of these photographs helps heighten the reality of the movie, helps to make Butler's performance seem uncannily accurate, and gives fans a fun pastime "spotting" Elvis.
The Colonel's Changing Cane Toppers Tell A Story
In the beginning, Colonel Parker carries a cane with a clown topper, reflecting his roots in the circus. After he begins to manage Elvis, however, his canes change to various elephants, signifying an acute narrative change in the movie.
At one point, country singer Hank Snow asked whether or not he would need to enter onstage "riding an elephant next" in order to get noticed. The Colonel fired back that riding an elephant made someone important. And he was never without an elephant-topped cane again.
The Geek Reference To The Sideshow
When Elvis is at the carnival standing alone and the Colonel is watching him from afar, eagle-eyed fans will note The King in front of an advertisement that says "The Geek". Given the Colonel's connections to the carnival, it offers a hidden clue indicating how he views the young musician.
In circus circles, the "geek" act is one of the most shocking parts of the freak show, involving performers who often bite the heads off of bats, or swallow wriggling snakes to impress the crowd; in other words," something they aren't sure they should enjoy." They are equally grotesque and exotic, but also considered at the bottom of a carnival's social strata, to be used for their talent but ultimately rejected, just like the Colonel eventually does to Elvis.
Priscilla's Use Of "Satnin'" During MLK's Memorial
Elvis wasn't known to make the same sort of political statements as other musical groups in the '60s, but he felt strongly about current events (especially during the Civil Rights era), which led to his performance of "If I Can Dream." In Elvis, he's shown to be overcome with emotion at the sudden death of Martin Luther King, who "always spoke the truth." When Priscilla goes into his trailer to comfort him, she finds him watching Dr. King's memorial, and she utters a single word in greeting, "Satnin'."
It might appear she's calling Elvis a pet name, but in fact, this was the nickname he used to call his mother, Gladys Presley. Priscilla knows Elvis well enough to know that after the death of another influential figure in his life, his thoughts would dwell on the mother he lost ten years before. It's a hidden detail that only hardcore fans knowledgeable about The King's life would know, and works to convey the intimate nature of their relationship.
All The Star Trek References
In the opening of the movie, amidst dozens of shots of Elvis performing at the International Hotel, a marquee for Star Trek: The Experience can be seen despite the fact that it wouldn't open until 1998, one year after Colonel Parker's death. When Elvis and the Colonel begin formulating the '68 Comeback Special, they do so from NBC studios, which features character posters from Star Trek: The Original Series in the control room. So why is there so much Star Trek in Elvis?
Not only was it still a hit when Elvis was working on his television event, according to the documentary The Seven Ages Of Elvis, The King was also a huge Star Trek fan himself, and even "had a horse named Star Trek." The crew of the starship Enterprise was boldly going, and so was Elvis, believing in the same ideals of altruism and a benevolent utopia.
Elvis's Nervous Shake At The '68 Comeback Special
Every detail of the '68 Comeback Special, from the red square light-up stage in the center of the crowd to the majestic rendition of "If I Could Dream" was lovingly recreated for Elvis, but there was another subtle detail that made it feel even more authentic; Elvis's nervous hands.
Elvis was incredibly nervous about stepping back onto the stage and performing in front of a live audience after so many years of a demanding film schedule. Hardcore fans know the original recording of the special shows his hand trembles for a few moments when he goes to grab the microphone, and Butler includes the small moment of self-doubt in his performance as an homage to The King. Butler's ability to make Elvis seem like a person and not just an icon is why his performance is one of the best portrayals of real-life musicians.
The Complete Reproduction Of The Audience At The '68 Comeback Special
To watch the '68 Comeback Special in Elvis is to be transported back in time. With Elvis in his all-black leather suit, holding his cherry red guitar, and performing on a lit box stage in the center of the room, everything seems picture-perfect, including the audience.
According to Pop Sugar, "every single extra sitting around the stage" has the same costumes, hairdos, and makeup as the real people that were part of the audience of NBC's '68 Comeback Special. It's a small detail that, while not completely necessary, makes the scene seem entirely authentic and Elvis the definitive story of the King.
Outfits Were Designed To Never Resemble Halloween Costumes
Elvis is well-known for his sense of fashion, from his beloved pink-and-black color combination from the '50s, to his bejeweled jumpsuits from the '70s. In order for Butler to not look or feel as though he was wearing a Halloween costume, Catherine Martin told Indie Wire each outfit needed to have "a synergy between Austin’s physicality and his interpretation of Elvis — a balance between historical reproduction and the actor’s physiognomy.”
Her team, therefore, adjusted things like the Napoleonic collar and the jacket length of the '68 Comeback Special, which might have seemed almost imperceptible to anyone but ardent fans, but ensures the clothing works with Butler's movements, and that he wears the clothes and they don't wear him. After all, he's not supposed to be an actor playing Elvis, but The King himself.
Getting "Lost" On The Biggest Stage In Las Vegas
During the first few moments of Colonel Parker and Elvis's conversation in the funhouse mirrors, Elvis explains, "I'm just lost and don't know how to get out." Elvis might be talking about the maze of reflections, but Parker takes this to have a double meaning about Elvis's life and offers him a "way out" - both from the funhouse and his current state of poverty.
When Elvis mentions feeling lost again, it's on the biggest stage in Las Vegas at the International Hotel. Indeed, a person "could get lost" on it, but once again, the Colonel is there to help him. One of the worst things to happen to Elvis involves abdicating control and trusting the Colonel's leadership when he's vulnerable.
Elvis's Dislike Of Confrontation
According to The King and Dr. Nick: What Really Happened to Elvis and Me, Elvis "hated confrontation." Vernon or other members of his Memphis Mafia were instructed to handle dealings with Colonel Parker, and the Colonel knew this. Whenever Elvis would get up the gumption to fire Parker, he would send someone to do it for him, but the Colonel would always insist Elvis tell him himself.
That's why Priscilla is so adamant that Elvis not go to see the Colonel "in person" to tell him about his plans for the separation of their business and his World Tour. The Colonel uses Elvis's intimate visit to his advantage and ends up manipulating him to stay in Las Vegas in perpetuity.
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Kayleena has been raised on Star Wars and Indiana Jones from the crib. A film buff, she has a Western collection of 250+ titles and counting that she's particularly proud of. When she isn't writing for ScreenRant, CBR, or The Gamer, she's working on her fiction novel, lifting weights, going to synthwave concerts, or cosplaying. With degrees in anthropology and archaeology, she plans to continue pretending to be Lara Croft as long as she can.More From Kayleena Pierce-Bohen