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11 user 55 critic

The King (2017)

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Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, a musical road trip across America in his 1963 Rolls Royce explores how a country boy lost his authenticity and became a king while his country lost her democracy and became an empire.

Director:

Eugene Jarecki

Writers:

Eugene Jarecki, Christopher St. John (co-writer)
1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Alec Baldwin ... Himself
Tony Brown Tony Brown ... Himself
James Carville ... Himself - US Political Analyst
Rosanne Cash ... Herself
Chuck D ... Himself
Maggie Clifford Maggie Clifford ... Herself
Lana Del Rey ... Herself
Emi Sunshine & The Rain Emi Sunshine & The Rain ... Themselves
EmiSunshine EmiSunshine ... Herself
Radney Foster ... Himself
Patricia Gaines Patricia Gaines ... Herself
Mary Gauthier Mary Gauthier ... Herself
Emmylou Harris ... Herself
Ethan Hawke ... Himself
John Hiatt ... Himself
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Storyline

Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, a musical road trip across America in his 1963 Rolls Royce explores how a country boy lost his authenticity and became a king while his country lost her democracy and became an empire.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Rise of a King, the Fall of an Empire.

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

Germany | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 June 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Promised Land See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$257,372, 13 September 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

A dense and impactful Documentary, but stretches the concept too much
2 July 2018 | by gortxSee all my reviews

Unorthodox documentary not so much "about" Elvis Presley, but about how Elvis affected --and was affected by -- American culture. The gimmick Director Eugene Jarecki employs is that he purchased Elvis' actual Rolls Royce, and then films interviews of a wide variety of folks in that vehicle as it travels across the places that Elvis himself stayed at various points in his life, from his hometown in Tupelo Mississippi to Memphis (although, curiously, Graceland is barely mentioned) and places in between.

Even though Jarecki doesn't give us a straightforward biography of Presley, THE KING does a pretty fine job of covering the bases, even if indirectly. The most effective part of the Doc comes early on in a discussion of whether Elvis was a cultural appropriator of black music, culminating in his early crowning as The King Of Rock And Roll. The movie gives a fair-minded balance of pro and con with people like Presley's guitarist Scotty Moore, Emmylou Harris and John Hiatt on one side and rapper Chuck D on the other (he, of the infamous song lyric: "Elvis was a hero to most. But he never meant **** to me you see."). There's also a clip of Big Mama Thornton's blistering original version of "Hound Dog". Jarecki then follows Elvis' travels to NYC and even bigger fame and riches. Then, it's off to the Army and Presley's decline into B movies and Vegas schmaltz. The clips of 'fat Elvis' at the end are truly shocking even all these decades later.

Where Jarecki over-reaches is that he isn't satisfied just showing Elvis' effect on the public, but then tries to tie it in with today's culture wars. Shot during the 2016 campaign with such guests as Alec Baldwin, Van Jones and James Carville, Jarecki makes tenuous connections. VERY tenuous connections. No question that Elvis was a seismic force when he hit, but, save for the brief glory period after the '68 Comeback Special, Presley can hardly be looked upon as a central artistic force after the very early 60s. While significant figures can certainly have a long influence, the fact that Elvis passed on in 1977 makes it a stretch to say that he is symbol of our Red-Blue state America today. If anything, Elvis is the very definition of 'Purple' celebrity - equally loved by all demos.

Even with this central flaw, there is no question that THE KING is a dense, engaging Documentary. One can't help but feel that they have gone on some sort of journey itself, much like Elvis's well-traveled Rolls itself.


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