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AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “ELVIS,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Culture > Entertainment

The Summer I Loved Elvis

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

Early last summer, I saw the trailer for the biopic “Elvis” starring Austin Butler. I knew instantly that I wanted to see the movie. But, I did not think I would become a huge Elvis Presley fan and avidly listen to his music. That is exactly what happened.

My family friend, Aunt Maria, has always been an Elvis fan. She even had an Elvis room with memorabilia from the “King of Rock and Roll.” The items include a replica of Graceland, which would light up and play Elvis songs, an Elvis lamp, an Elvis license plate, mugs, a mounted photo from his Hawaii concert, and beyond. Her husband, Uncle Bill said, “And naturally, hanging on the doorknob it said “Elvis Slept Here,” with a laugh. That is all I remember of Elvis from my childhood, the “Elvis room” at Aunt Maria and Uncle Bill’s house. A few of the songs like “Burning Love,” and the iconic love ballad, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” were familiar to me. But that is it. 

I knew I wanted to see the movie with them. On June 24th, 2022 it was released. We went to our local Regal Cinemas. There is nothing like a cold movie theater on a humid summer day. The smell of popcorn is my favorite. The screens are massive, the way Baz Luhrmann, director, and producer of the film intended for it to be seen, he told Forbes Magazine. Movie theaters were now FINALLY making a comeback after their brief break during the pandemic! 

The film opens with, “Suspicious Minds (Vocal Intro)”, and I was intrigued. Now it was going to be a 2 hour and 39 minute long film. That is long compared to what I’m used to seeing. I sat back in my reclining chair unknown to the world I would soon be opened to. Tom Hanks plays Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager. The premise of the film is to explore the relationship between the two along with a deeper look at Elvis’s life. 

It was vibrant, fast-paced, and musical. Austin Butler’s embodiment of Elvis Presley was astonishing. From the voice to the moves, some might say the performance was hypnotizing. Some would be me. I kid you not I left the theater thinking I have never seen a movie THAT good. As a fan of music and pop culture, and a lifelong fangirl, Elvis Presley just gained another fan. Someone who was born in 2001, 6 decades after the king himself. 

The filming of the iconic ‘68 Comeback Special that was featured in the film was an experience unlike any other for all who witnessed it. “I’m looking down and I’m seeing my body in the leather and I’m seeing the exact guitar and exact stage. I’m hearing the audience scream in the same way. I’m feeling the same fear and pouring it into the song in the same way. That transcended what I expected that moment would be.” Austin told Entertainment Weekly magazine. 

Tom Hanks and Baz Luhrmann also felt that energy, “We felt like we had witnessed Elvis,” says the director. “We were in a time machine, and we were there,” Baz also said to Entertainment Weekly magazine.

Austin being so invested in the performance was felt through the screen. In a Variety interview with actress Janelle Monáe, Austin told her, “ During “Elvis,” I didn’t see my family for about three years. I was prepping with Baz, and then I went to Australia. I had months where I wouldn’t talk to anybody. And when I did, the only thing I was ever thinking about was Elvis. I was speaking in his voice the whole time.” 

I’ve always been a fangirl. Of course, I hopped into the world of Elvis Presley. People would completely swoon over him during his career. They still do to this day. I went home that night from the theater and watched a bunch of YouTube videos of Austin and Elvis. As a proper fangirl does. The first one I clicked on was a BuzzFeed Celeb video of Austin playing with puppies while answering questions. I watched various Elvis documentaries and movies he starred in like Blue Hawaii over the next few days. 

In the following days, videos were swirling all over TikTok which only made me want to see the film again. 

Two weeks later, I convinced my dad to go see it with me. He enjoyed it. 

And a week after that, I went with another family friend, Aunt Winnie. She really enjoyed it. I noticed different things each time I watched it. This was the first movie I went to the theater to see more than once. It was well worth multiple visits.

I was curious about other features of his life besides music. His ex-wife Priscilla Presley wrote a book, “Elvis and Me.” It was going to take weeks to ship from every online market and was not available at any local library. I knew I was not the only person now deep diving. I rented the next best thing, “A Little Thing Called Life,” written by Linda Thompson, an ex-girlfriend of Elvis. It was a great read. 

I truly think his music is timeless. He was inspired by so many amazing artists like B.B. King, Big Mama Thornton, and Dean Martin. I’ve always appreciated music that came before my time. Towards the end of the film featured in this clip, Elvis says, “I’m gonna be 40 soon ‘Cilla, 40. And nobody’s gonna remember me. I never did anything lasting.” That was so sad to me. His music has since touched generations. It is amazing to me how through the film, even Generation Z, my generation fell in love with his music and films, 47 years after his 40th birthday.  My absolute favorite songs have been, “Suspicious Minds,” “Love Me Tender,” “Moody Blue,” and “Unchained Melody.” 

I ended the summer by attending an Elvis impersonator show with Aunt Maria and Uncle Bill. Of course, I wore my brand-new Elvis shirt. He even found a spot on my Spotify Wrapped of 2022.

My favorite Elvis quote is, “‘Without a song, the day would never end; without a song, a man ain’t got a friend; without a song, the road would never bend – without a song.’ So I keep singing a song.” His music forever has a spot on my playlist.

Lara Thebold

Stony Brook '23

Lara Thebold is a senior at Stony Brook University studying Mass Communications. She loves pop culture, One Tree Hill and Taylor Swift.