Though several actors portray Elvis Presley at different stages of his life, this documentary is comprised mostly of actual performance footage and interviews with Elvis, his fans and those close to him. His arrival on the national scene ,in 1956, is highlighted by clips from "Stage Show", "The Milton Berle Show" and "The Ed Sullivan Show". Scenes from several of his 33 films are highlighted including his screen debut in "Love Me Tender" (1956) and the critically acclaimed "King "Creole"(1958), his last film prior to a 2 year hitch in the military. From 1960-68 he kept busy by making films and soundtrack albums, as well as some Gospal albums. After an absence of almost 9 years from live performing, Elvis returned in 1968 to do a TV Special titled "Elvis" and in 1969 performed in Las Vegas for the first time since 1956. His Vegas appearances, along with his nation wide concert tours, continued for the remainder of his career. A clip from his 1973 TV Special,"Elvis Aloa", is featured. Telecast from Hawaii, it was the first concert to be televised live by satellite around the world.We also see footage from his last TV Special, "Elvis in Concert", which was taken from his final 1977 tour.
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As an Elvis worshipper with an interest in history, on the other hand, I rate the video four stars. The art of Elvis does not tell the whole Elvis story. While the video does reference a bit of the biographical and cultural context of Elvis's early years, the video disregards almost completely the tragic decline and demise of Elvis. Ironically, by perpetuating the historical tradition of not dealing with Elvis's end, the video serves as an unexpected historical document in its own right.
In conclusion, this video is an artistically satisfying but historically incomplete account of Elvis Presley. If you don't yet own the new comprehensive DVD boxed set--or a DVD player, for that matter--this video will probably inspire you to buy both.
Much has been said here already about this film, so I will focus on two much-maligned aspects of the film--the dramatic reenactments and the voiceovers.
The first moments of the film are dramatic reenactments. We open with a reenactment of Elvis's loved ones finding his body at Graceland, and then we have reenactments of scenes from Elvis's childhood growing up in Tupelo and then, Memphis. While the phrase "dramatic reenactment" can immediately bring to mind fears of copious cheese, this need not be the case here. These portions of the film are tastefully done and decently acted and directed. Most importantly, they are crucial to the structure of the film. It would have been odd, indeed, for a film claiming to be a definitive portrait of Elvis to pick up when he's nineteen or so and cutting records. We need a vision of his earlier life. Since there is no video record of that time, the dramatic reenactments are necessary to fill the void. At any rate, these only take up about the first ten or so minutes of the film.
Some have also criticized the use of narration, in general, and the first-person narration of the Elvis impressionist, in particular. First of all, without narration, this film would be nothing more than a collection of video clips strung together. Narration is called for to give this collection the shape of a narrative (as the term "narration," of course, suggests). That said, one might still ask, why first-person narration? Personally, I find the use of first-person narration here to be inspired.Read more ›
The premise of this video is to document the life of the 'King' from childhood to overnight sensationalia through military, marriage and moviestardom and finally to decline and ultimate demise. The director's conceit is to use actors to portray phases of his life as a set up for the plot and then to use actual film footage of subsequent events to flesh out the story. In addition, we are guided by narrations from 'Elvis,' 'Priscilla,' his 'Mom' and others all with suitably hill billy accents, where appropriate. In my opinion this departure from straight documentary hurts the film and I found my mind wandering from bits because they seemed bothersome and artificial. In addition, I believe that the story was poorly told in any event because the video comprised more than two hours of material (some of which was not on the big screen release), and still did an inadequate job of covering many of the many issues the story raised. For instance, we are shown a gathering of Elvis impersonators and Teddy Boys in Liverpool England which, apart from the spectacle, had absolutely nothing to do with the film. It was almost as if someone wanted to do a section on the spawn of Elvis kitsch, clubs, and impersonators but then begged off, and forgot to cut this clip. Also, a section is given over to a revelatory book written by his former body guards and mention is made of law suits, but with no other information.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Now that's what I call a great story. So different from what we usually see and I really LOVED IT!Published 3 months ago by Marlene Jeannotte
I love anything to do with Elvis. It was strange though that both discs were similar. I watched the disc 1 ,then disc 2, and there was so much on disc 2 that was repeated. Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2013 by Compost
As with my other Elvis movies, stays sealed for nostaligic purposes and is only opened if someone wants to watch it.Published on Feb. 9 2012 by K. L.
If you are a true Elvis fan. This documentary is a must have.
This was in the making while Elvis was alive. And finished after His death. Read more
Goodness, there's a lot of Elvis on this week. Did someone die? I've been walking the streets whistling Heartbreak Hotel, so the man had something. "This is Elvis"? Read morePublished on Aug. 16 2002 by Gary
This video is a must-have for all Elvis fans. It has clips that I have never seen before. It has some great concert footage clips and songs throughout the video. Read morePublished on April 10 2002 by Carole J. Hicks
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