A24 released the first official trailer for ‘Priscilla’ —the biographical drama written and directed by Sofia Coppola, which stars Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla and Jacob Elordi as Elvis Presley.
After decades of focus on the icon Elvis, will audiences finally hear an authentic story surrounding the life of Priscilla Presley?
What is the ‘Priscilla’ Movie About?
Based upon Priscilla’s memoir ‘Elvis and Me’, audiences are able to catch a glimpse into the origins of Priscilla, who was thrust into the rock-n-roll limelight of the 1960s as she met the ‘King’ Elvis Presley. According to A24:
Through Priscilla’s eyes, Sofia Coppola tells the unseen side of a great American myth in Elvis and Priscilla’s long courtship and turbulent marriage, from a German army base to his dream-world estate at Graceland, in this deeply felt and ravishingly detailed portrait of love, fantasy, and fame.A24 Films
Understanding Priscilla Presley
Priscilla Presley has been the center of Elvis’s discourse since their relationship blossomed in the 60s. After marrying Elvis in 1967 and divorcing in 1973, Priscilla’s identity stayed locked to the cultural icon, years on, many do not see Priscilla beyond her role as Elvis’s wife. According to Priscilla Pressley:
“I didn’t have my teenage years as a normal girl, obviously, so I had to adapt,” she added. “I just kind of followed what he did. I mean, you lived his life. You honestly didn’t have your own life. You lived his life. You saw the movies he wanted to see, you listened to the music he listened to, you go to places that he would go. You really kind of lost yourself.”Annie Martin
Although Priscilla still remains tied to the Presley name, she branched out into the realm of business, arts, and culture. Becoming an executor for the Presley estate, it was Priscilla who notably transformed the Graceland home into a tourist attraction, developing a merchandising and licensing empire.
Elvis and Priscilla’s Relationship
The complex and turbulent relationship between Elvis and Priscilla is the main focus of Coppola’s biopic. The pair first met when Priscilla was 14 years old, and Elvis was stationed in Germany for the military. After a few years of separation, at age 21, Priscilla went on to marry Elvis, and a year later, Lisa Marie was born.
The 10-year age difference was significant, with Elvis himself allegedly noting Priscilla as “just a child.” Most depictions of Elvis shy away from the controlling and inappropriate behavior that was documented. But ‘Priscilla’ aims to explore the shocking age gap and inappropriate nature of the pair’s relationship.
During the early years of the relationship, Elvis would note to his friends that Priscilla was “young enough that I can train her anyway” and would consistently remind Priscilla she was “mature for her age.”
Priscilla bought makeup and clothing to make her appear older. To suit his preferences, Elvis was strict regarding Priscilla’s appearance, she went on to claim she was his “living doll, to fashion as he pleased”. Priscilla was also expected to live up to harsh conditions, forced to take substances so she would have the energy to go to school during the day and be available during the nighttime.
Beyond the loved-up photos of the pair were secrets and affairs that remained hidden to the public eye. Priscilla admitted to ending the marriage after she could no longer ‘tolerate’ his infidelity. Over the years, Elvis reportedly would have affairs and conceal it by forcing Priscilla to stay at Graceland. Following his stint in Hollywood, Priscilla would imitate the styles and aesthetics of major actresses to maintain her appeal and interest in Elvis.
A New Representation of Priscilla?
Multiple officials from the Elvis estate have reported disapproval surrounding the ‘Priscilla’ biopic, so it is not surprising to hear dismay about a film that takes the limelight away from Elvis. After decades of focus on Elvis and his legacy, the film focuses on the intrinsic elements of the pair. Jacob Elordi wanted to explore the ‘quieter’ side of Elvis; away from the glitz and glamor of showbiz, we see the darker sides of Elvis and their relationship.
With Sofia Coppola acknowledging the toxic relationship between the pair, we can see Priscilla through a fresh lens and the struggles she experienced being married to Elvis. By failing to romanticize the relationship between the pair, we can authentically see Priscilla through her human struggles and her drive to “want a life for herself.”
Reactions to the ‘Priscilla’ Film
Building up to the release of ‘Priscilla’, the film and its trailer have received mixed reactions. Elvis fans and the official Elvis Estate have already expressed their negative opinions, but Sofia Coppola was quick to remind them that “the film isn’t for them.”
Debuting with a 93% rotten tomatoes score, ‘Priscilla’ has received widespread praise and approval. Debuting at the Venice Film Festival, the biopic received a seven-minute standing ovation. Priscilla herself praised Sofia Coppola for doing an amazing job capturing the depth to her relationship.
According to the Guardian:
This film says a great deal about Elvis and the dysfunctional business he was in and Priscilla’s modest integrity and courage.Peter Bradshaw
With ‘Priscilla’ being released on November 3rd in the USA and January 1st, 2024 for the UK, audiences can expect a heartfelt dedication to the real woman behind the legacy of Elvis, Priscilla Presley.