Baz Luhrmann’s film delves into the influence Tupelo had on Elvis the Boy and the Artist
TUPELO, Miss. (WCBI) — One of the most talked about movies of the summer is now in theaters nationwide. “Elvis,” the film chronicles the life of the Tupelo native son, from his humble beginnings in East Tupelo to his worldwide fame.
Just minutes from Baz Luhrmann’s “ELVIS” Tupelo, is front and center as a young Elvis Presley makes his way through a spirit-filled tent revival.
The five-year project chronicling the life of Elvis and the relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks, is expected to spark renewed interest, not only for the artist, but also for his hometown.
“This is huge for Tupelo,” said Lucia Randle, executive director of the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association. She believes the film will show younger audiences the important role Elvis played in music and culture.
“We, our generation, have always known how wonderful Elvis was, but with the movie, I think he will be introduced to a new generation. These young people may not know Elvis and the contributions he made to music,” Randle said.
Tom Brown is the host of the Tupelo and Nashville Elvis festivals. He says Baz Luhrmann’s “ELVIS” will introduce the original rock star to a new generation.
“A few years ago the movie ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ came out on Queen, there were so many people who didn’t know Freddy Mercury and didn’t know this band and they became Queen fans. I see the same thing happen with this movie of Elvis, this movie is going to have an impact on people, who today, don’t realize that they are fans of Elvis. There is something that I always quote, Jerry Schilling, a member of the Memphis mob, said, “If you give Elvis music to the kids, he’ll take care of everything else, that’s what’s going to happen,” Brown said.
Roy Turner is Executive Director of the Museum and Birthplace of Elvis Presley and is also a noted historian of Elvis the Boy. He says the film shows the impact Tupelo had on Elvis Presley the boy and Elvis the global superstar.
“The beauty of our story here in Tupelo, they say he was here until he was thirteen, he was two and a half months shy of his fourteenth birthday when he left in October. These are formative years, the things you are exposed to during those years, the culture, the attitudes, the religious beliefs, you carry them with you, they help define who you are and who you are becoming. And Elvis proved that, in his concern for others, his generosity started with Tupelo, he gave the initial money to build the park that is now the birthplace,” Turner said.
Baz Luhrmanns “Elvis” opens less than two months from what will be the 45th anniversary of Elvis’ passing. Those who knew Elvis say he always wondered what his legacy would be or how he would be remembered.
Interest in the Elvis film shows that the boy from humble beginnings still captures the imagination and admiration of the public.
We would like to thank Graceland, Warner Brothers, Elvis Birthplace and Museum, and the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association for their assistance with our series of reports.