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Review: Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla captures loneliness in Presely marriage

THE ICONIC DAY: Priscilla and Elvis Presley cutting their cake at their 1967 wedding reception.
CC BY 2.0 DEED
THE ICONIC DAY: Priscilla and Elvis Presley cutting their cake at their 1967 wedding reception.

Long lashes, big hair, heavy eyeliner, short dresses and fame describe the rock bottom of Priscilla Presley’s life. Instead of a picture perfect life as the wife of the most iconic singer, Elvis Presley, Priscilla constantly faced loneliness, an unfaithful marriage, and constant disappointments. In Sofia Coppola’s new film, Priscilla, Coppola creates a story from Priscilla’s point of view and details how her marriage took away her innocence and independence. 

Coppola, at the beginning of the movie, focuses on Priscilla’s youth and her awe of Elvis. She is seen as a quiet, young girl who would follow her parents, but her relationship with Elvis starts as a separation from her parents’ grasp. Priscilla sees Elvis as her escape to freedom and success, yet her promised liberty is nonexistent. Her introduction to Elvis seems too good to be true, providing foreshadowing concerning power dynamics. Elvis is depicted as an adult wearing a mature outfit, while Priscilla, only 14, is a child dressed in a modest dress. Throughout the movie, Elvis is presented as a villain who often abused the age difference between him and his wife. He is presented with dark-like camera shots and dark outfits compared to Priscilla’s light, plain outfits. Jacob Elordi, who plays Elvis, actually stands about a foot taller than Priscilla’s actress, Cailee Spaney,  which further emphasizes Elvis’ imposing nature and his control of Priscilla. 

As soon as she moves to Graceland, Elvis Presley’s ranch, Priscilla faces abuse and falls into negative patterns with pills. Her natural look soon turns dark, with heavy eyeshadow and teased hair. Her original innocence as a young girl is washed away by Elvis’ desires. Graceland represents as her lack of freedom and just the beginning of her miserable years as Elvis Presley’s wife.

Although Priscilla has assured the public that her overall relationship with Elvis was a good thing, this film reflects upon the mistreatment she received. Although most of the abuse is verbal, he sometimes gets physically abusive, such as throwing a chair at his wife. When Priscilla gave birth to her first child, she felt her husband was not involved and he could no longer be a partner to her, she realized her marriage could not be saved and decided to finally leave. Priscilla serves not only as a representation of abused women but also gives a voice to the strength needed to leave. 

Coppola’s Priscilla showcases Priscilla’s dark past to show how she overcame such dire circumstances. Though the film features the aesthetic of classic music and ’60s outfits, Priscilla is ultimately a story that focuses on the unstable relationship of one of the most iconic couples. 

 

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About the Contributor
Scarlett Brisbin, Staff Writer
Hi! My name is Scarlett Brisbin and I am a staff writer on the Arrow Staff! I really enjoy writing, movies, coffee and music. I chose to be on staff because I find entertainment really interesting and fun to write about. I especially love the visual aspect of journalism and honestly love photography the most. My favorite movies are definitely Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and Dazed and Confused! When I am not in journalism or watching movies, I play beach volleyball! I am so excited to be a part of the staff this year and be with these amazing people.
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