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7 Days to Baz, Austin & ELVIS!

For over a year, Elvis fans around the world have been anticipating the new ELVIS movie by Baz Luhrmann, staring Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as Col Tom Parker. 

Now, we're just a week away from finally getting more than a tailer and a worry has spread throughout the Elvis-world like wildfire.   

Is it going to be fair to Elvis, is it accurate? How will they handle Elvis' last year of life? The questions have mounted, and the concern over whether Austin Butler can handle such a role, as a new up and comer has weighed on everyone's minds.

And after the last week of star studded interviews and raving reviews, from even the harshest of spectators, like the Presley family themselves, I believe it's safe to say---we finally have our movie!!!

Does Austin look exactly like Elvis? No. And we all know nobody can do that, not really. Does he sing exactly like Elvis? Of course not! 

But he has given us what most Elvis biopic's lack, by truly harnessing the spirit of Elvis Presley, and thats his essence. Austin made it viable. And that alone is a special gift for those of us that recognize it.

In my humble opinion--and I think most fans will agree--Austin is a HUGE improvement. I mean, the best we've seen up to this point was Kurt Russell, in the 1979 made for TV movie titled Elvis.  And since then it's been bad movie after bad TV movie. While we sat back and watched Johnny Cash and Joaquin Phoenix earn rave reviews for Walk The Line, and Jamie Foxx knock it out of the park for Ray Charles in Ray, we screamed; when will Elvis get his big Hollywood movie? When will someone do his s
tory justice?

But, then, who would play Elvis? The man who's face is known across the world. The icon with such a unique manner, like a strut that most diehards can describe in great detail? Me included--and I would know,  I've spent two books writing about it, Eternal Flame and Dream Angel! The man with the complete star-package like no entertainer in history? No, the challenge was just too big. We dared not hope, nor dream.

Until Baz! The man who gave us The Great Gatsby and Moulin Rouge! Yes, we needed Baz. And Baz needed Austin.                          

Now, Dan and I have watched every interview, every trailer, soaking up the spirit of Austin Butler, amazed at how such a young man clearly sees what we've all seen, for year's, in Elvis Presley. How he understands the Elvis we know; Elvis the man, the father, the entertainer, the complex soul that he truly was. And he gets it!!! 

Praise the Lord, somebody finally gets it!!!

Every time, we hear Austin talk about Elvis, in true fan-like detail, emotions swell! Austin is finally saying what we've tried to convey for year's. And the world is listening! They're taking notes on the ELVIS we know, the compassionate, complex, and giving to a fault kind of man that he was. And it warms us with a rush of sweet validation.

And so, we are headed into the theater next Friday, June 24th, with an open mind. We anticipate seeing Elvis' spirit up on that screen and I believe we're going to get just that. We can't wait to enjoy Elvis in bright living color, if only for a night, sparkling in a Baz Luhrmann kinda way! 

We want to see Hollywood bow down and be in awe! We shall relish in the knowledge that we always knew what so many are just now understanding! For once, those that said Elvis was nothing but a caricature, dismissing his importance in musical history, will see.

 There would be..... 

No Beatles without Elvis.
No Stones without Elvis.
No Dylan, No Jackson, no Rock n Roll as we know it!
 
And in that same respect, we wouldn't have had Elvis without Mahalia Jackson, Big Mama Thornton, Little Richard, and all those young black Rhythm and Blues artists that came before. Elvis soaked up these wonderfully inventive black artists, mixed it with his white Gospel/Country Western roots, and the world listened.

Rock N Roll was the catalyst that blew racial lines into a million pieces, and in fact, it still does today. 

So, what are we going to see in 2.5 hours of ELVIS next week? Can they cover Elvis' 42 years as completely and accurately as fans want? I'm going to say, no.

"Creative privilege" comes to mind. And honestly, the sentiment never meant much to me before now. Mostly due to the fact that inside my creative word of storytelling, outside of the truth inside fiction, I never had to worry about story accuracy. I made up my own worlds, so I wasn't bound to the facts. That was until I co-wrote The Giant in Me, a memoir I helped create about Dan's fight with food addiction at 650 pounds. Now, the story was personal and it spanned 50 years! How in the world can someone cover a life span, drive home the point, and not have the book be 800 pages?

Creative privilege. 

And I'm sure that complex question haunted Baz; how was he going to cover a life like Elvis in 2.5 hours? By taking two points of time and merging them into one, allowing the viewer to understand more with very little.

For instance, in the ELVIS trailer, we see Elvis and Col Parker sitting together, riding on a ferris wheel at a carnival, and Parker (Hanks) asks, "Are you ready to fly?" To which Elvis (Austin) answers, "I'm ready to fly!" 

While Elvis often rented Liberty Land, the amusement park in Memphis, riding the Zippin Pippin rollercoaster until the sun came up, this exactly scene, as it's showcased, never happened! But what do we learn from this falsehood, what's important, especially for the non Elvis fan's to understand? That Parker was a Carny, that he was comfortable in that life style, and he knew that Elvis was hungry. We also learn that Elvis loved carnival-style fun and was ready for a life changing event. 

Creative privilege! We get the point.

Baz didn't need to use another hour, and spend millions of dollars, to tell us that Parker was not who he claimed to be. That he was not originally from the USA, that he was in the country illegally. Instead, Hanks gave Parker an accent, though he didn't have much of one, and now we know! We can hear it! And if new fans are curious about the real details, there's a hundred books they can read. And they will....

Because if there's anything Baz and cast left us is a need for more. More. More. And more!

Thank you Baz Luhrmann, Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, and All the crew of ELVIS. It's been a long time since we've felt like the cool kids on the block. 

And for once, when asked, why Elvis? We can legitimately inquire, have you been living under a rock?

Elvis is everywhere!

Patricia Garber