Elvis: That’s The Way It Is – Review. What can I say about Elvis Presley that hasn’t already been said? He is an artist among a small pool of unique icons. When we think Elvis we think of legends like The Beatles, Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, or Frank Sinatra.
There will truly never be another Elvis. “Elvis: That’s The Way It Is” is a digitally remastered documentary from 1970 that follows Elvis’s journey and return to the stage in 1969 after he had been absent from concerts for a decade.
We get to see Elvis in the recording studio and at his rehearsals up until the arc of the film when we finally got to see him on the Las Vegas stage. What was most interesting to me about this piece is that we got to see Elvis as he truly was, an artist.
The name Elvis is synonymous with an image, much like someone like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis’s image has almost been overused to the point of abuse; I have to admit I even own a set of Elvis dishes, matching cups, and salt and pepper shakers I picked up at an estate sale not long ago. I think the novelty of Elvis really made people lose sight of who he actually was, a man of true talent from the golden days of music who was completely immersed in his craft and cared deeply about it.
It would be difficult for someone like Elvis to be made famous today, his baritone voice so unique and rare that I can’t imagine modern pop record label executives wanting to invest money into developing his artistry, or even having an ear for it. Elvis’s music, voice, and performance style are unique and timeless. He is unforgettable, and so many of his songs ring true today.
In the latter third of the film I was reminded of his song “In The Ghetto” which, as someone from and currently residing in Chicago, I really appreciated this song and felt Elvis’s awareness of these issues were not only pure and sincere, but also ahead of their time. This song is not only still culturally relevant, but for this type of artist to draw attention to the unfair and inescapable conditions people are born into was a big step for the music industry and entertainment as a whole.
Elvis truly is the King. After a decade offstage for him to come back with such a mesmerising performance was a treat to watch. Not only was his voice still smooth and his performance flawless, but he had such a charm and great interaction with his audience.
Though his fans put him up on a pedestal, Elvis literally leaned down from the stage to kiss them and show them appreciation and love. He even walked through the crowd, though this may be a move you couldn’t do in today’s world, it was nonetheless risky, but that seemed to be who Elvis was. A risk taker for his craft, his concerts, and his life. It is a shame the world lost an icon too soon, but thankfully Elvis’s memory lives, and we can always go back and marvel at the artist who spawned arguably one of the most unique images ever created in the music industry.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, I tip my hat to the original filmmaker, the late Denis Sanders, and think I speak for all of us when I say “thank you, thank you very much.”
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