Baz Luhrmann in his Elvis Scene: Dreamland Movie Theater

Big cinema that doesn’t rely on big brands is fraught with danger. But what is “Elvis”? A brand, but how vital is it? In any case, at the world premiere in Cannes, the film “Elvis” with the hitherto relatively unknown actor, thirty-year-old Austin Butler, excited the audience and the press. Baz Luhrmann spoke to AZ about Priscilla Presley, the “king” who doesn’t want to be king and the future of cinema.

AZ: Mr. Luhrmann, some critics are offended that your movie “Elvis” doesn’t show the documentary truth about “King of Rock’n Roll.” Does this bother you?
Baz Luhrmann: No, because drama is always lies. But it lies in the meaning of the highest truth. I have a narrator in the film: Elvis’ director, Colonel Parker, who provides his version of the story, played by Tom Hanks. There is absolutely no human being who can be a reliable narrator. Aside from that: What is documentary truth?

Elvis: in the tradition of Amadeus

Documentaries always act as if they offer the only authentic representation.
But we know from the internet how easy it is to manipulate people into believing that the purest nonsense is real. I see “Elvis” more in the Amadeus imitation of Milos Forman. One of the greatest movies ever made for me. On the other hand, the “Amadeus” character of the same name is actually Mozart. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Mozart didn’t die because Salieri pushed him to write Requiem.

Although the title of your film suggests that it presents the classic autobiography of Elvis.
There was an idea to call it “King and Colonel”. But Elvis never referred to himself as a “king.” So he hated it. And at some point I realized that “Face” is simply the most obvious thing. Because that name is a brand like Coca Cola or Chanel No. 5. Don’t mess with this. There are very few terms in the world that people associate with anything specific. Take that word and everyone knows what it means, whether they like it or not.

After all, they found a lawyer in Elvis’ widow, Priscilla, who highly praised him.
Originally, of course, she was very skeptical. Especially when it comes to our main character. But after watching the movie, she wrote to me: “We all cried because we were so touched, including the guards. Even my husband would have been amazed if he was alive.”

Baz Luhrmann: “I appreciate sound criticism”

Although it is an Elvis story, it is shaped by your exaggerated aesthetics. Would you consider a more conservative narrative style?
I am from a small town in New South Wales, on the other side of the world. When you come from such an environment, you tend to dream your way to Earth on the other side of the rainbow. When I was young it was the cinema. But we didn’t call it a cinema, we called it a “movie theatre”. This form me. So I make theatrical films because that is the essence of cinema for me. I don’t mean to piss off the critics, although that might be fun. I appreciate well-founded criticism. I envision my films in a way that excites people. In the end, I’ve been searching for this dreamland all my life.

However, this experience assumes the existence of cinemas. As you know, we live in broadcast time. I’ve already filmed a series on Netflix.
Yes, I admit it. I also admit that I just sat in my bed and watched a movie on my smartphone. But at the same time, I think people should gather in a dark room and then unite with other strangers through the shared experience of the story, whether it’s on stage or on screen. At the premiere of “Elvis” in Cannes, people applauded to the tune of music. This is just one example of that experience. I also look at the big perks myself. I found ‘Batman’ well done, I will watch ‘Top Gun: Maverick’.

Even in the wake of the epidemic will not change the need for society?
I know there are people who say they no longer want to go to the movies for fear of infection. More specifically, they want a real reason to overcome that fear. So the movie must be worth it. As a manager, I am fully aware of this responsibility. But cinema will not die. That’s what people said when the TV came on. And what was the result? Movies are getting bigger and better – and more theatrical.

Sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) published the journal from 1899 to 1923

80 Years of “Great Love”: The Shocking History of Nazi Propaganda Film



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Lea Seydoux as the suspicious media star in France.

“France” in the cinema: image, self-image, world image



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Do you really want to make franchise movies?
I choose wisely the brand names that are dead. Shakespeare died, “The Great Gatsby” died, maybe I’m a masochist. Or maybe I’m like the kind of investor who buys a dead brand to bring it back to life.

Your films are very elaborate. Will it still be possible in the future in an industry where major investments depend on “live” brand names?
I’m not interested. I only make a movie every few years. I have ideas for hundreds of creative adventures in my head. Maybe I’ll have an opera again. Perhaps I will develop a jewelry collection. I probably won’t make more movies, and I’ll probably make hundreds more. My wife and fashion designer Catherine Martin and I have the situation: If we want to do something, we do it. The question, then, is: Who would like to accompany us on this journey? But if someone wants to take the trip with us, we set the direction and pace.


Previews June 22 in Munich: Astor in Bayerischer Hof, Cadillac, Cinemaxx, Rio plus Leopold, Monopol, City (OmU), Cinema and Museum (OV)

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