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“Priscilla”: Sofia Coppola’s newest cinematic endeavor

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Gigi Richardson Seifert
The life of the famous Priscilla Presley, former wife of Elvis Presley, has recently been adapted to a 2023 biopic by the esteemed director Sofia Coppola, an A24 film. Starring Cailee Spaeny as the titular character and Jacob Elordi as Elvis Presley, the film follows the pair’s life together.

Sofia Coppola, known for her heartbreaking stories of womanhood and love, released her newest film “Priscilla” on Oct. 27, 2023. Based on the autobiography “Elvis and Me” by Priscilla Presley and Sandra Harmon, the film follows the story of Priscilla before and during her relationship with Elvis Presley. By bringing typically overlooked stories to life, this film is perfect for anyone interested in the life and legacy of Priscilla Presley.

Featuring Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla and Jacob Elordi as Elvis, their roles had huge expectations. Not only is this film following the wildly successful film “Elvis” by Baz Luhrmann,  but there was the added stress of correctly telling Priscilla’s story. From adolescent struggles to mental and physical abuse to trying to fit into a world she was too young to understand, Coppola undertook an immensely complicated story. 

One of the film’s most interesting aspects is its mention of the age of both Priscilla and Elvis when they first met. In 1959, the two met at Elvis’ house party in Bad Nauheim, Germany. At the time, Priscilla was a freshman in high school at 14-years-old, whereas Elvis was 24-years-old and already insanely popular in the music industry. Their age difference later sets up the power dynamic where Priscilla often feels left behind and out of place with people Elvis’ age, as well as her own. Although this topic was important to include in Priscilla’s life, it added to the negative reviews from critics. Some noted that the focus on the early years of their relationship took away from Elvis’ prime years. 

However, the film isn’t about Elvis. It’s about Priscilla. By going into the film expecting yet another film about Elvis “The King of Rock and Roll” Presley, many viewers were disappointed. But there has been a plethora of films about Elvis, many of which blow over the complicated suffering and relationships Priscilla endured.

Priscilla’s complex life story combined with Coppola’s filming style proved to be an interesting and relatively unknown topic. A topic portrayed in the film that there is no denying how incredible and heartbreaking it was is the abuse Priscilla endured during their relationship. Starting during her first trip to Graceland in Nashville, Elvis began emotionally manipulating her. While there isn’t a specific reason as to why he did this, most assume it was a sort of power trip caused by his status in the music industry. 

While the film and script were incredible in their own right, the performance given by Spaeny was what truly made the film. From her emotional range to her chemistry with Elordi, Spaeny rose up to the occasion. Elordi also did incredible as Elvis, adding to the major success he has had recently with other projects such as “Saltburn and “Euphoria.” 

Although the film had some fans disappointed with its seemingly hasty ending, the topics explored in this film were incredible and finally told Priscilla’s story right. In an interview after the film’s release, Priscilla herself said, “Sofia [Coppola] did an amazing job … It’s very difficult to sit and watch a film about your life and about your love.”

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Ruby Jenkins, Assignment Editor
"Jeopardy," “Red (Taylor’s Version)” and iced vanilla latte with oat milk enthusiast.
"Dying is an art, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well." - Sylvia Plath

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