June 6, 2024
Peter Calder

Pricilla and Elvis: Two Divergent Stories (2 minute read)

I recently watched Sofia Coppola's Pricilla and Baz Luhrmann's Elvis -both similar in subject matter but very different stories and films.

In Pricilla, we follow her life from childhood to being involved with Elvis' circus of life and then their relationship's eventual demise.

In Elvis, we follow his life from childhood to superstardom and mostly explore Elvis's negative relationship with Tony Parker, the Colonel.

Although I found the Elvis film entertaining, the glitz and the glamour showed the origins of his music and what it was like in that kind of time as a superstar. I did prefer the more interesting story of Pricilla, which was from a very different perspective as someone who lived side by side next to this sought-after figure. With Pricilla, we were able to explore what it was like to have a childhood crush, turn into an uneasy marriage, and then find your true self.  

I watched a few interviews with real-life Pricilla discussing the film, and it is important to note that some scenes and points in the film aren't true and are exaggerations of what happened. We start with Pricillas' childhood, which sets the tone of the film. There are also many details that constantly imply how young she is; also, simply visually, Cailee Spaeny does a tremendous job acting as  Pricilla. We were able to see the time when a young person wanted to do whatever they could to be with what or whomever they wanted, often going around their parents. My favourite detail about the film was how Coppola and Spaeny visually captured Pricilla's character when she spent all that time in Elvis' life and at Graceland. The way it felt watching these aspects specifically, there was an immense sense of shyness and loneliness, not even needing to have any dialogue, just the ever-evolving action chaotically ramping around her, like water running around a rock in a stream.

The film captured Elvis' chaotic life surrounding and suffocating  Pricilla. Another important detail about the film was the wardrobe and makeup. It was quite evident in the story that Elvis's effect on young Pricilla was important, as she wanted her to dress and look a specific way, add more eyeliner, change her hair colour, etc. This transition throughout the film was visually satisfying, similar to Beth in The Queen's Gambit. 

Pricilla begins with a girl look, then the influence of Elvis comes in with a very distinctive change, then the film finishes with those influences and effects coming off, and she looks as she wants to for herself. As noted in an interview, the actual Pricilla did mention that it wasn't necessarily a bad thing she looked the way she did in the Elvis years because, for the time, it was normal to dress and look the way your spouse wanted you to, of course, times have changed a lot since then.  

I recommend giving Pricilla a watch, it's a subtle look into a very interesting character and  person. It was intriguing to watch both Elvis and Pricilla and compare the two, after all, they did  come out only 15 months apart.

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