logo

Sofia Coppola's 'Priscilla': Unraveling the Divisions within Elvis Presley's Family

"Lisa-Marie Presley's Objection: Unraveling the Complex Dynamics in Sofia Coppola's 'Priscilla'"

In a surprising turn of events, Lisa-Marie Presley, just four months before her passing in January, voiced strong objections to Sofia Coppola's forthcoming film, "Priscilla," centered around her parents, Elvis and Priscilla Presley. Reports from Variety reveal that Lisa-Marie sent two emails in September 2022 to the film's writer-director, Sofia Coppola, expressing her disapproval of the screenplay's portrayal of Elvis as "a predator and manipulative." Lisa-Marie criticized Coppola's perspective as "shockingly vengeful and contemptuous."

What makes this objection particularly intriguing is that "Priscilla" is not an unauthorized, sensationalized account but a restrained and intimate drama adapted from Priscilla's own memoir, "Elvis and Me." Furthermore, Priscilla herself served as the executive producer and actively promoted the film alongside Coppola since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival in September.

The narrative of "Priscilla" delves into the Presleys' romance, tracing back to their first encounter in Germany in 1959 when Priscilla Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) was a 14-year-old schoolgirl and Elvis (Jacob Elordi) a 24-year-old superstar. Contrary to the initial objections raised by Lisa-Marie, the film portrays Elvis not as a conventional predator but as a courteous, soft-spoken gentleman. It highlights his rejection of Priscilla's advances and emphasizes that their intimate relationship only began after their marriage when she turned 21. Nevertheless, the film also sheds light on Elvis's control over Priscilla's life, dictating her appearance, restricting her employment options, and providing her with pep pills.

Lisa-Marie's concern goes beyond the cinematic portrayal, as she expressed worries about her mother's understanding of the film's intentions and its potential impact. She, as Elvis's daughter, sees little resemblance between the character depicted in the film and her father, and her protective instincts towards her mother, who dedicated her life to elevating Elvis's legacy, further fuel her apprehensions.

The controversy adds a layer of complexity to the narrative surrounding "Priscilla," inviting speculation about the delicate balance between artistic interpretation, family dynamics, and the preservation of a legendary legacy.

"Navigating Complex Narratives: Lisa-Marie Presley's Concerns and Sofia Coppola's Cinematic Balance in 'Priscilla'"

While Lisa-Marie Presley's concerns about Sofia Coppola's film, "Priscilla," are rooted in her role as a devoted daughter, they raise questions about the nuanced nature of artistic interpretation. Lisa-Marie's assertion that she couldn't see any resemblance of her father in the character may miss the film's intended purpose—to unveil a side of Elvis that the public hadn't seen before. Coppola's objective wasn't to elevate Elvis but to humanize him, portraying him as a flawed and complicated individual.

The worry that the biopic might undermine Priscilla's dedication to "elevating my father's legacy" may also miss the mark, as Coppola's focus was not to glorify Elvis but to present him as a multifaceted human being. Lisa-Marie's praise for Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," a more glamorous biopic, contrasts with Coppola's nuanced approach. Coppola's film has been careful to avoid sensationalism, prompting critics to debate whether it suggests Elvis was "grooming" his teenage girlfriend. The film doesn't editorialize on this aspect, instead presenting events for the audience to assess, leading to varied interpretations among critics.

Critics like Richard Lawson argue that the film doesn't portray Elvis in a "shockingly vengeful and contemptuous" manner, while others, like Tara McNamara, see it as an unvarnished depiction of grooming. The diversity in these interpretations, mirroring the reactions of Priscilla and Lisa-Marie, could be indicative of Coppola striking a delicate balance in her portrayal.

In an email to Lisa-Marie, Coppola expressed her hope that the final film would be perceived differently and emphasized her commitment to honoring Priscilla while presenting Elvis with sensitivity and complexity. Tragically, Lisa-Marie never had the opportunity to see the completed film. The unfolding dynamics between artistic vision, family perceptions, and the audience's interpretation add layers of complexity to the narrative, making "Priscilla" a thought-provoking exploration of a legendary figure's humanity.

"If this narrative resonated with you, don't miss out on The Essential List newsletter. Every Friday, we curate an exclusive collection of features, videos, and must-know news, delivered directly to your inbox. To stay engaged and share your thoughts on this story or anything else featured on BBC Culture, join the conversation on our Facebook page or send us a message on Twitter. Your perspectives enrich the dialogue, and we look forward to hearing from you."

"In conclusion, our goal is to keep you engaged and informed. If this story captivated your interest, The Essential List newsletter is your ticket to a curated selection of features, videos, and noteworthy news, arriving in your inbox every Friday. We value your insights and would love to hear your thoughts not only on this story but anything else that caught your eye on BBC Culture. Join the conversation on our Facebook page or drop us a message on Twitter. Your perspectives contribute to the vibrant dialogue we cherish, and we eagerly await your participation in shaping the ongoing narrative."