Baz Luhrmann made a four-hour cut of new film Elvis... and it’s ‘wackadoo’

·2-min read
 (Warner Brothers)
(Warner Brothers)

Director Baz Luhrmann is a perfectionist: as the most commercially successful Australian director in the world, his involvement with everything from his films’ music to their look has made his style instantly recognisable.

So it will come as no surprise that there is a four-hour cut of his new film Elvis in existence, and apparently it’s a tad more “wackadoo” than the 159-minute version that made it to cinemas (and which our reviewer loved).

Speaking to Radio Times, the director explained that his extended edition confronts some of the wilder elements of Elvis Presley’s life… of which there were many.

The current edition of the film, starring Austin Butler as the titular character, focuses mainly on Elvis’s relationship with manager Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks, and the struggle for power between the two.

However, over the course of filming Luhrmann also explored other parts of Elvis’s life.

“I would have liked to lean into some of the other things more. There’s so much more. I mean, there’s lots of stuff that I shot like the relationship with the band, I had to pare down, and it’s so interesting how the Colonel gets rid of them,” Luhrmann explained.

In addition, the longer version explores the rock star’s “addiction to barbiturates and all of that”.

“What happens is he starts doing wackadoo things, like going down to see [President] Nixon.

“I had it in there for a while but there just comes a point where you can’t have everything in, so I just tried to track the spirit of the character.”

During the interview, Luhrmann also discussed why he decided to make the controversial Colonel the focal point of the film.

"It just seems to speak to right now, the tension between the carnival selling, the hucksterism, the snake oil bit [from the Colonel], and then the vulnerable and the pure and honest [character of Elvis]."

The longer version also digs into Presley’s relationship with his “first girlfriend Dixie”, whom Elvis met in high school – the two eventually parted ways after Elvis’s rise to fame put a strain on their relationship.

According to Luhrmann, the heartbreak of the split shaped Elvis’s life and career for years afterwards.

“Once he’s caught in a trap, and he’s discombobulated and doesn’t understand… someone who’s got such a hole in his heart like Elvis [was] constantly looking and searching for love and finding it onstage but nowhere else.”

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