Alice Oscura, Featured Writer
Released initially on HBO back in 2018, Elvis Presley: The Searcher is a two-part biographical documentary film now available on Netflix. It avoids a scandalised, tabloid version of the singer’s life and instead chose to focus on Elvis the gifted artist, the son, the soldier, the husband, and the father.
Regarded as one of the most significant and transformative singers of the 20th century and a man simply referred to as the “King of Rock ‘n Roll”, Elvis Presley (1935-1977) was so much more than a performer. Since he was such a publicised celebrity the series is chock-full of archival still photos, footage, and home movies, including some never-before-seen images of the Presley family as well as images of objects inside Presley’s iconic mansion Graceland. The mansion has been open to the public as a museum since 1982 was declared an historical landmark on March 27, 2006.
Born as the only surviving identical twin, Elvis formed a special bond with his mother Gladys that remained with him even in her death. Presley’s initial inspiration for music was influenced by the gospel music he would listen to when he attended church in Mississippi with his mother. This influence was responsible for his creation of a fusion of Black and White American songs originating from his love of rhythm & blues, country, and gospel music that eventually morphed into the hip-gyrating, leg-twisting rock ‘n roll music that sent young girls all over America into a frenzy whenever he performed on a stage.
However, the documentary helped to also clear up a common misconception about the King which is the belief that his almost instantaneous fame came with luck. Au contraire as Presley worked tirelessly with an almost obsessive drive. The off-the-camera interviews with Presley’s ex-wife Priscilla and many other key players in the music industry are a brilliantly added touch as it doesn’t pull the viewer away from the supporting archival videos and images being shown on the screen.
The documentary does seems to paint Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker as the villain in his story. Parker had almost too much influence on Presley’s personal decisions from his acceptance at being drafted by the Army to him marrying Priscilla. Since Parker illegally entered the United States from his home country of the Netherlands at the age of twenty he feared leaving its borders at the risk of being deported. This only served to hamper Presley’s career as he was unable to tour internationally. Although Parker’s skills are applauded by some for his talent at brokering musical and movie contracts, copyrights, and public appearances, some remained convinced that Parker used Elvis like a workhorse, and he wasn’t able to stay as close to his musical roots as he would have liked to.
Becoming overworked and frustrated Presley turned to drugs and became severely overweight which is the reason why his life was so suddenly cut short at the age of 42 from a heart attack. One of the main points that I took away from the series is the fact that most people tend to forget that he was only human. Despite all the fame and fortune, in the end Elvis became a very unhappy and lonely person because he was not pleased with himself and what he had become. After his mother died Elvis was never the same as he had lost someone so extremely near and dear to him. Gladys kept him grounded with her religious influences and she reminded him of his roots and his humble beginnings. Without her there to anchor him, Parker’s influence slowly carried him down a path that I think maybe he was ashamed off.
Despite this, Elvis’ influence over the music industry is forever and he is immortalised in his music and movies. The documentary is a brilliant and respectful way to reacquaint yourself with the King as it humanises a well-loved musical idol. It is also provides a chance to tell the story of his life the way it should have been told years ago.
Alice’s Score: 8 out of 10
You can check out more great documentary content below:
Biography: The Nine Lives of Ozzy Osbourne is a Raw Look into the Prince of Darkness
‘Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind’ Goes Beyond the Mystery of the Actress’s Death
Dark Alice has an old soul and a curious mind. I believe that anyone can be a hero and that the good guys should always win! I dislike cruelty to animals and think that they have far superior qualities to humans. My motto is there is no future without the past. I also have a weird penchant for Paranormal TV shows even though the slightest sound makes me jump. I enjoy writing reviews and throwing in fun facts to pique the readers’ curiosity. My ultimate goal in life would be to become a published writer one day. Read More