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Why Sofia Coppola’s New Film ‘Priscilla’ Is So Significant

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

With the release of Elvis in 2022, our generation gained an interest in a music figure from the past. Obviously, most of us have heard of Elvis before (we all have that obsessed aunt, right? Or is that just me?), but this film brought in interest from Gen Z like never before. Maybe it was Austin Butler’s performance, maybe it was the filmography, or maybe people just wanted to dance to a movie musical. Although the film also featured Priscilla Presley, Elvis’ wife, it completely brushed over the nature of their relationship. This was a cause for critique from many fans as people began to explore and understand the reality of the pair’s relationship. 

Elvis Presley was 24 when he met 14-year-old Priscilla and began pursuing her. In his own words, Elvis believed he could mold Priscilla into his ideal woman, saying she was “young enough I can train her any way I want.” As their relationship developed, Elvis continuously bought her adult clothes and makeup. Therefore, he was jokingly accused by the media of turning her into his own living doll.  

To keep up with Elvis’ music career, the pair took many cross-country trips to see each other. Elvis eventually convinced Priscilla’s parents to allow her to move to Memphis, Tennessee, where she would finish high school. It was during this time that Elvis began providing pills for her to take in order to attend classes as well as keep up with his work schedule, which included amphetamines and sleeping pills.  

His demands for her image only got stronger as well. He had porcelain caps placed on her teeth, had her dye her hair and style it to match his own, demanded she improve her posture, and controlled her wardrobe to mirror his outfits. Priscilla told The Hollywood Reporter, “I lived in his world. I wanted to please him. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to have fun with him. I wanted to see what it was that he liked.” The pair married when Elvis was 32 and Priscilla was 21. 

Their relationship was heavily romanticized throughout Elvis’ career and the years that followed. Elvis’ fans all wanted to be Priscilla; they thought she was living the dream life. But with today’s understanding of acceptable and healthy relationship norms, we can now recognize that Priscilla was a victim of grooming.  

In Sofia Coppola’s film PRISCILLA, this reality is going to be portrayed. Coppola adapted the script from Priscilla’s memoir, Elvis and Me, and was expecting a juicy Hollywood tale. Instead, she was struck by how emotional and relatable she found the story. Priscilla revealed she trusted Coppola to tell the story and felt that “she really got me.”  

The film, starring Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi, will feature the truth of what occurred and how Priscilla felt during it all rather than being all focused on Elvis and his life. It is important to tell this story to show how the media glamorized a toxic and hurtful relationship, even if Priscilla still says she looks back on those years fondly. 

Coppola is hopefully paving the way for more representation of the truth in media regarding relationships like this. That representation is essential for viewers, especially young girls, in order to learn about the warning signs as well as the lasting implications of grooming and harmful relationship tactics like the ones used by Elvis. While yes, movies are a source of entertainment, they can also offer insight and intelligence that viewers may not have accessed otherwise. In a society where most of us know at least one woman who was sought after by an older man when she was much too young, access to perspectives like the one being portrayed in PRISCILLA can hopefully help prevent that from occurring in the future.

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Sophie Roguski is a Junior at Florida State University, majoring in International Affairs, with a minor in Hospitality Management. She loves romcoms, celebrity gossip, and has a strong desire to travel more.