Elvis Presley: The Searcher (2018) Poster

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8/10
A long in depth look at the making, rise, and fall of the king.
blanbrn20 April 2018
This "HBO" doc called "Elvis Presley: "The Searcher" is long and drawn out as it's really informative and educates all about the life and the making of Elvis from his early life all the way up to death. Really it's a great biography type film to see with classic footage of concerts, interviews, and comings and goings of the one and only "King". Also the film is supported by talk and narration from the late Tom Petty and "The Boss" Springsteen and ex wife Priscilla all talk about his impact on music and culture and all recall the good and bad times.

Early you see how the blues and gospel music and being around blacks influenced "Elvis" to be outside the box and mix his music to a blend to be classified as many different styles. Then along the way his journey to "Memphis" and meeting Tom Parker would help shape his music life.

Yet a downfall and backslide was Presley's dive into movies and acting which hurt his image and would age him and cause his need to start over with music. However his pressures and stress would lead to drug abuse and a much to early departure. Overall good look at the life and times of the king the one and only "Elvis Presley"!
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7/10
A tome of appreciation for Elvis the real person
benm-4175113 March 2019
Sometimes it's hard for anyone born after Elvis' death to understand what was so special about him, what the mania was about, especially when we only see his later image repeated all the time. This two-part documentary lovingly follows Elvis' spirit, the essence that made him special, throughout all the stages of his life.

It starts with his roots as a boy who lived in poverty but also immersed in music, into his first success as a raw traveling talent, to his shooting success, his plateau into commercial mediocrity, then his reemergence as a larger than life superstar before his decline. It gives a more critical perspective into the musical elements and the artistic agency that really made his music stand out and influence the industry.

The Searcher is a refreshing change from the sensationalist biographies that just want to focus on his explosive success and zoom in on his weaknesses. At the same time, it does gloss over some of those darker elements - making it a slightly incomplete biography.

I personally didn't enjoy the artistic effect occasionally used of showing Elvis clips in an empty room, dressed as a household of the 50s, 60s or 70s. I suppose they were supposed to have a pensive or nostalgic effect, but to me they would momentarily drain the energy out of what is mostly a lively documentary.

Part one is the better part, especially because it's where Elvis' deep roots and passion in music are explored, whereas part two is a bit of an awkward dance between acknowledging his decline while also trying to remain full of praise. The whole thing could have likely been cut into a single 2-hour film instead of two 1.5-hour pieces.

All told, this is a great film to connect younger audiences with the historic and magical legacy of Elvis Presley, looking past the surface and the gossip to see a special man.
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Rarely Has a Film More Exceeded My Expectations
roland_lmt28 May 2018
This is, without a doubt, one of the best documentaries I have ever seen. And I've seen a ridiculous amount of films in my life. Even if you are not a big fan of documentaries, and I'm generally not, this is worth seeing. Even if you are not a fan of Elvis Presley, this film brings a perspective of American history worth a look.

Usually, when someone is that famous, and died decades ago, we tend to believe we must know everything there is worth knowing. Two things make this film very different. First, the personal views of those who knew him best, like Priscilla Presley, and those influenced by him, like Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty, give the film a gravity rarely seen. Second, this is the rare film that neither worships nor belittles him. It approaches Elvis Presley as a human being, much like any other, whose life had an amazing range of ups and downs.

I've rated thousands of films on IMDb, but reviewed very few. This one was worth a few minutes to share my thoughts. Well done to all involved.
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8/10
Like Elvis, the first part is the best
jcravens4223 April 2018
It's amazing how many people now think of Elvis only as a caricature, with a few hit songs and girls screaming in front of him. This documentary goes a long way in helping those who don't know why Elvis was a pioneering artist, why he was so much more than just an early rock and roller, how he re-imagined the blues, country and even bluegrass into a form uniquely his own. Much like his life, the pre-Army years are the most interesting. I wish they had interviewed more contemporaries - surely there are people still alive who were actually at some of these concerts, tapings, etc.? I so appreciate the film-makers making it clear that Steve Allen was attempting to humiliate Elvis and kill rock and roll - he definite deserves "credit" for that attempt. The doc also gives a good view of Colonel Parker - why Elvis picked him to manage him, why that absolutely was a great idea early on but how it turned disastrous at the end and how, for all the great things he did for Elvis early on, he ruined his career, and perhaps his life, at the end. What a shame that, at the time of this doc's release, the 1968 Comeback Special isn't available on DVD (unless you are willing to pay someone almost $100 for it) - this doc made me so hungry to watch it again (haven't seen it since a NYE broadcast in Germany back in 2007 or so).
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10/10
The King
gabecritter22 April 2018
This movie not only gives you a lot of information it also gives you the information in an enjoyable way. This documentary will not only give you a new appreciation for Elvis as a singer but it will give you appreciation of Elvis as a man
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10/10
This made me a fan
umimelectric8 June 2019
I am a fan of a lot of music from the 60's and 70's and for whatever reason always ignored Elvis, probably just chocking him up to a novelty or focusing mainly on his 50's music that never really appealed much to me. This long, 3.5 hour documentary opened my eyes about him and his great music he made at the end of the 60's and start of the 70's. Now I'm collecting his live performances online from that era and enjoying him a lot. Great documentary; I can only imagine it's even better for longtime fans. Elvis truly was the King!
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6/10
This is Elvis
Prismark1015 June 2018
Director Thom Zimny has made music documentaries for Bruce Springsteen where he has access to interviews with the Boss and members of his band as well as those closest to him.

Here Zimny has been granted access to footage, photos and archived interviews from his estate. There are no talking heads but you have narration from Springsteen, Tom Petty, Jon Landau, Priscilla Presley, Emmylou Harris and childhood friend Jerry Schilling.

This is a sprawling two part documentary that clocks in at 4 hours. It is very long, telling a story that could had been done in half the time. The involvement of Priscilla also makes me thing it was sanitised in parts. There is no mention of Elvis's karate lessons and each other's infidelities.

The first part is more interesting, Elvis singing country, gospel, bluegrass that will eventually lead to rock n roll under the guidance of Sam Phillips of Sun Records.

Colonel Tom Parker is the villain of the piece, a malignant influence who ultimately enriched himself and held back Elvis who wanted to see the world but could not as the Colonel was an illegal immigrant.

The documentary comes alive when it plays interviews from Elvis, Sam Phillips and those who were there with him at the time. When Tom Petty talks about how Elvis was bored when he was in the army in Germany and how he took uppers to keep awake, you think 'how do you know?'
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7/10
I went into this an Elvis-skeptic and came out a sympathizer.
I'm not a huge Elvis fan, but the lovingly in-depth, full scope of this 2-part documentary got me closer. I of course knew about much of it (his days at Sun Studios, the unfulfilling Hollywood years, his "larger"-than-life Vegas swan song), but it shined a light on so many things I didn't know. The rock lifestyle didn't get him addicted to pills; the army did. His extreme stage fright after getting back to music. His entire relationship with malicious Tom Parker.
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8/10
"People need to see him the way he really is."
classicsoncall18 November 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen a handful of documentaries about 'The King', but this one is far and away the best and most comprehensive. You can believe the cover hype stating it's the 'definitive' look at Elvis Presley, if there could even be such a thing. The story doesn't dwell on any single aspect of Presley's life and career, but is comprehensive enough to give one a measure of the singer's influences going all the way back to his childhood, the blossoming of his career, the military service, the movies, and the concert tour comeback that began in 1968. Things that I already knew about Elvis were reinforced here, like the devoted relationship with his mother, his introduction to Priscilla while stationed in Germany, and the suffocating aspect of his involvement with Colonel Tom Parker. More than anywhere else, the Colonel's influence over Presley and the manner in which he kept the singer under his thumb is amply demonstrated, and one can only wonder the heights to which Presley's career might have gone in film if he had ever been given a chance at worthwhile dramatic roles instead of the fluff characterizations he got to capitalize on his looks and voice.

The only puzzling thing about the documentary for me were some of the disconnects in story telling continuity. One of them was a quick jump from his Army discharge in 1960 immediately into the 1968 TV special comeback. Then the story retreated back to the early Sixties to pick up where it left off coming out of the service. There was also a point in the film where it looked like it was over with some on screen narrative, and then it resumed again. Watching the documentary in it's entirety, I would assume that it might have occurred at a break between the two parts of the presentation. The technical specs for the film state that it runs a hundred nine minutes here on IMDb, but the actual footage goes for almost twice that at two hundred five minutes. But don't be daunted by the three and a half hour run time. For Presley fans, and even if you're not, this is a well researched doc that's both entertaining and informative. Guest commentary includes insights from folks like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Red West, Ike Turner, Emmy Lou Harris, and Priscilla Presley herself.
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7/10
Will The Real Elvis Presley, Please, Stand Up?
(*John Lennon quote*) - "Before Elvis Presley there was nothing."

Whether you're an Elvis Presley fan, or not - This first-rate presentation is sure to hold your rapt attention from start to finish.

Without question - Elvis was a pop music sensation like no other before him.

Leaving no stone unturned - This 3-hour-20-minute bio-documentary, pretty much, covers all the ground regarding both Elvis's public persona, as well as his private side (which was kept well-guarded behinds the iron gates at Graceland).

(*Trivia note*) - As of 2018 - It is roughly estimated that Elvis Presley's records have, collectively, sold nearly 1 billion copies, worldwide.
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6/10
Elvis santised
blue-raincoat30 June 2020
This long documentary, voiced by his colleagues, fans and ex-wife presents a highly sanitised heroic version of the man. Which is a pity, because his humanity and vulnerability were as important as his talent. Brushing his womanising and many other excesses under the carpet does him no favours These aspects were a huge part of his personality and his appeal. A more honest and three dimensional approach, presenting the truth, would have much improved this film and would have in no way diminished the memory of this much loved performer.
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9/10
Incredibly sad and touching
rnf1009 October 2019
I didn't know much about Elvis, being a child of the 70s, it was all rather lost on me, sure I knew some of the big ballads and endured the endless films shown on television on Bank Holidays This is an epic film, beautifully made , right from his early life, it's detailed but never boring.The love and affection from the film makers shines through from the start. Elvis was such a humble, kind , funny person. Everything he did was groundbreaking, but has been duplicated so many times by lesser mortals, you've got to remember he was first and best I love the early raw music , those seemed to be the best times for Elvis... if that music was launched today it would stand out as pure class The comeback show was heartbreakingly beautiful, his smiles and laughter, it seemed he proved to himself he could still do it...he could, it was astonishing.The film follows the decline in a tastefully , slightly depressing, way Having sat through to the end I shear a tear at the sad end to a brilliant career. Anybody who is a fan or not or wants to find out more about The King should watch this, it's brilliant filmmaking and paced to perfection... my favourite moment is the duet with Sinatra......it's just so ......Natural
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9/10
What an Impact!
westsideschl26 October 2018
Almost 800 songs, and 30+ movies, and TV shows (hosting & guesting). The number of top ten songs ranks with Carey & Madonna. Number one ranked songs in the same ballpark as Springsteen, Streisand, Stones, Brooks (only Beetles & JAY-Z are higher). Had an enormous historic impact on changing American culture in the fifties & sixties to what we enjoy today. As much as any other individual in any profession. At that time racial separation was as divisive (thank you current president for bringing that term back) as ever in the 20th century. Raised in poverty in a sharecroppers style house in the south he grew up w/the sacrifice of a hard working single mom w/dad sporadically present. His impact: He merged country, bluegrass, and especially blues & gospel w/their black influences into something to be soon called rock 'n' roll and brought it to white America thus bringing two+ races into one. His acceptance of black music, his gyrations & his music faced fierce vocal opposition from the media, from church pulpits, and from politicians (hmmm, I won't comment further on that one). His songs filled all music genres from religious to rock. Not to mention folk & Italian operatic.

The documentary is unique in that all the visuals center about Elvis's life. When we have guest commentary we are only shown in small text who is speaking. Side note: "AGT" 2018 had a youthful revivification of Elvis's legacy in the form of Courtney Hadwin.
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9/10
Discovering the man behind the king
gtessarini4 September 2019
Elvis Presley was declared and praised as "The King of Rock". Although extravagant in his own way, he humbly never accepted this title, even though it deserves many artistic, professional, and personal motives. This documentary is a beautiful and thorough investigation and narrative about the entire social, musical, and historical context in the US, in the world, if you find it before, during, and what it looked like after Elvis Presley and all his life. Elvis's success and the rise of many other artists are presented with many of his most memorable personal moments and how the people around him heard or made an influence. Your city, family, religion, your friends, your manager and artists of the time are very well connected to all the moments and decisions that lit or King to your first and stardom, always looking for a truth, good emotions and energies for others. who he wanted so much to convey joy to his music and movies. Many racial issues are explained and narrated with respect to Elvis had his part, partly as "a piece on the table" and also as a voice and tribute to those who do not like to hear about this time. In his striking but 42 years of life (if he died), Elvis starred in 31 films, recorded 784 songs and performed over 1600 concerts and concerts. While performing actions for more than one life, the King's final years are not as well explored in this documentary as other moments in his younger phase, nor are Elvis's latest close analyzes focused on narrative. His wife, Priscilla, is one of the main sources of personal details, and rightly so, although she may have several other Elvis phases after her alteration and affinity and relationships with others. Elvis Presley: The Searcher doesn't come to such striking details as Elvis's repercussion after his departure, but he approaches a huge part of his life with dexterity and quality worthy of a king.
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8/10
loved it
jewelch27 January 2021
The resulting film is culled from the Presley archive, and includes such unseen gems as a recording of Elvis's mother Gladys singing gospel music. Very interesting to watch, yes I highly recommend it. James Welch Henderson, Arkansas. 1/25/2021
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8/10
Well worth a look
fransvisser-3364218 January 2019
I saw this docu on a early promotion dvd 📀, wonderful footage, music 🎶, high quality - a Joy to watch and listen,,, also the 3 cd set worth it.
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