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Sophia Coppola’s Priscilla

Sophia Coppolas Priscilla

Decorated filmmaker Sophia Coppola has struck once again, this time with ‘Priscilla’ – a biopic examining the complexities within Priscilla and Elvis Presley’s marriage. The film is largely based on Priscilla’s memoir, Elvis and Me, which was published in 1985 and inspired Coppola to undertake this project over what she’d previously planned.

The cinematic masterpiece begins through the lens of a 14-year-old Priscilla in Friedburg, Germany, where her father and 24-year-old Elvis are both stationed. Priscilla receives an invitation to one of Elvis’s parties, where she first meets the jaunty singer. They begin casually dating, despite worry from her parents, until his return to the United States. Priscilla is devastated, but a few years later Elvis calls again to profess his love. Eventually, Priscilla moves to Greenfield to live with Elvis, finishing her senior year at a nearby all-girls Catholic high school. Further on, the film explores the couple’s deepening relationship and conflicts as they build their life together. Priscilla struggles to deal with Elvis’s infidelity and jealous temper, even as they have a child, Lisa Marie Presley. Eventually, Priscilla and Elvis realize they are leading separate lives.

The film, released on October 27, 2023, grossed over $12 million domestically in the first two weeks. A stunning performance from Cailee Spaeney flawlessly portrays Priscilla Presley from ages 14 to 27, and an equally impressive show from Jacob Elordi perfectly captures Elvis’s essence. The pair bring an electric energy to the film and must be credited greatly as to its emotional effect.

Funnily enough, the film contains none of Elvis’s actual music. According to Coppola, the Elvis Estate did not grant her permission to use his music in the film. To counter this issue, Sons of Raphael wrote original music for the movie.

Another point of interest is Lisa Marie Presley’s response to the film. From emails obtained by Variety, Lisa Marie criticized the portrayal of her father in the film’s script. In one email, Presley says, “My father only comes across as a predator and manipulative. As his daughter, I don’t read this and see any of my father in this character. I don’t read this and see my mother’s perspective of my father. I read this and see your shockingly vengeful and contemptuous perspective and I don’t understand why?” In another, Presley threatens public opposition to the film: “I will be forced to be in a position where I will have to openly say how I feel about the film and go against you, my mother, and this film publicly.” However, no public outcry was heard as Lisa Marie sadly passed away, from natural causes, on January 12, 2023.

In general, this movie is expertly crafted, highlighting how an abnormally large age gap, as well as traditional female societal roles and Elvis’s fame influenced the power dynamics of Priscilla and Elvis’s relationship. Although told from Priscilla’s point of view, both sides of the story are represented. In addition, the film is an add-on to many previous ones that explore the glamor of Hollywood and its tollsome effect on relationships. The ending is quite predictable and slightly abrupt but only serves to bolster the intentional superficiality and succinctness of the film’s message. 

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About the Contributor
Monika Jeraj, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Monika Jeraj is a senior and one of the Arts & Entertainment editors for this year. She has been a part of Sword & Shield since junior year and enjoys writing entertaining articles about various topics. Outside of school, she loves to be outdoors, read, play music, and spend time with friends and family.
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