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“Priscilla”: A Powerful Representation of Women

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

Sofia Coppola is a director whose films place heavy emphasis on isolation, girlhood and freedom. My favorites are “Marie Antoinette,” “The Virgin Suicides” and most recently “Priscilla.”

“Priscilla” showcases the hardships faced by Priscilla Presley as the young girl that the King of Rock and Roll set his sights on. This film is based on Priscilla’s own memoir, “Elvis and Me.”

The film starts when Priscilla, played by Cailee Spaeny, meets Elvis at the age of 14. Coppola masterfully makes the audience’s skin crawl by showcasing how young Priscilla was when they first met. Elvis says, “Why you’re just a baby,” when he realizes she is a freshman in high school when they meet. He was 24 at the time. Priscilla is constantly isolated throughout the film due to her age. She is only in high school when she lives at Graceland with Elvis and the Memphis Mafia, a much older crowd. Spaeny perfectly portrays the innocence and naivety of Priscilla throughout the film. 

Jacob Elordi portrays Elvis, and hilariously, he admitted he only knew about Elvis from “Lilo and Stitch.” He perfected the iconic, often unintelligible, Elvis voice. As a closed captions user, I missed the luxury of reading what he was saying in the theaters. With the little knowledge he had, he did fantastic in playing Elvis’ possessive nature, as shown in Priscilla’s memoir.

Throughout the film, Elvis controls what Priscilla does with her appearance. He blatantly tells her that prints wash her out and tells her what she should be wearing. He also tells her to dye her hair black and wear more eye makeup. In true Coppola fashion, there is a makeover scene where Priscilla dyes her hair and draws on her signature eyeliner.

Throughout the course of the film, Priscilla grows tired of Elvis’ behavior and begins to grow as her own person. Viewers see Priscilla reclaim her autonomy as a woman from Elvis after she has their baby, Lisa Marie Presley. Her hair goes back to its natural color and she ditches the dark winged liner of the mid ‘60s. 

At the end of the film, she leaves Elvis to pursue a life of her own while “I Will Always Love You” by Dolly Parton plays in the background.This song is a tribute to Priscilla’s real feelings towards Elvis, even after they divorced. Although she wanted a life of her own, she allowed herself to express her feelings. Courage does not mean that emotions must be abandoned. 

Priscilla assumes a passive role for most of the film. However, this does not diminish the strength that she truly shows while navigating their complicated relationship. Priscilla has the courage to change her life and walk away, despite loving one of the most influential musicians.

Sofia Coppola consistently shows the woman’s experience perfectly. Priscilla shows that women are expected to be compliant at a man’s whim, but women do not have to put up with that. Women are strong and will be their own person. The freedom of Priscilla at the end of the film left me euphoric and hopeful of my own future.

Hi! I'm a sophomore at SLU majoring in Communication with a focus in Journalism and Media Studies. I love to read and watch movies, usually in the romance genre. I also love to do my own nails, hang with my cats, and go to concerts! Thanks for reading <3