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Greetings again from the darkness. Thanks to the one night showing through Fathom Events, I got to see this on the big screen again for the first time since it's initial release in 1972. For the 75th Anniversary, an introduction was added that included some clips and interviews. I found it most interesting to get a behind the scenes look at how the film was put together, and the roles of Robert Abel, Pierre Adidge and Martin Scorcese.
The film itself won a Golden Globe for best documentary and it's easy to see why. It provides a look at Elvis on the road ... and a peek at what he was like as a man. In the new intro, Priscilla says "Elvis didn't just sing a song". She is so right. Sure, he had an amazing voice. And yes, he was an incredibly charismatic stage performer. Obviously, he was a handsome man and sex symbol of the times. But what the film reminds us is that he was a musician ... a man who felt and loved the music.
For anyone who doesn't "get" Elvis or thinks he was just some old guy in a sequined jumpsuit, this is the film to watch. Upon its original release, Rolling Stone magazine's headline read "Finally, the first Elvis movie". The montage of his early years and crowd shots of his later years, show just what an impact he had on his fans. There was, and still is, a connection to those who were captivated by the man and his songs. He truly was a musical and social phenomenon.
Seeing him carry the burden of being ELVIS is very interesting. While the songs and performances are fun to watch, the real value here is in the backstage portions. That's where we see that he lived for the music. How else can you explain the voluminous recording library he left behind in less than 20 years. Despite the military service, pressures of fandom, and his personal issues, he continued recording songs that we can enjoy today. Compare this to the Rolling Stones, whose careers have lasted more than twice as long as Elvis! While he was not at his physical peak on this tour, he was 37 years old and in decent condition. What is obvious is that the VOICE is still there when he wants it. The two best moments are when he records "Separate Ways" and then when he performs "Trilogy". That is the proof that the special gift never left him.
It's difficult to watch this and realize that Elvis was dead 5 short years later. It really affects how you view his father, Vernon, who we see backstage and watching his son perform. It is also painful to see guys like Joe Esposito and Sonny and Red West kissing up to Elvis, now that we know they would go on to publish trash stories about him their golden goose was dead.
The film truly captures a part of history and a glimpse at a fascinating man, who really was the first mega-superstar who became bigger than life.
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