Baz Luhrmann and Miuccia Prada Open Up About Their 30-Year Friendship and Dazzling “Elvis” Collaboration

Prada: Yes of course. And I’m totally into it, but I don’t want to declare it. One of my sons told me that we had to take a stand, that we had to speak out, otherwise we wouldn’t support his ideas. And in fact, it is the problem of the famous intelligentsia, or the intelligentsia of the left, that because they do not want to enter the arena of superficiality and so on, they are silent.

Luhrman: Only the loudest are heard.

Prada: The loudest, exactly.

Luhrman: In film, the reason I wanted to do the Elvis movie is that it’s not about Elvis Presley, it’s about America in the 50s, 60s and 70s. And more importantly, it’s about a man named Colonel Tom Parker [Elvis’s manager, played by Tom Hanks] who was never a colonel, never Tom and never Parker. He was a carnival barker and a snake oil salesman who sold Elvis. Now together, Elvis absorbs all sorts of influences he grew up with: country and western, rhythm and blues, and above all, gospel. Gospel music is life.

Prada: I read that and found it very, very interesting.

Luhrman: So Elvis grows up in one of the white designated houses in a black community. Colonel Tom Parker is an impostor and he doesn’t care about the music, but he sees the effect of Elvis on an audience and says, “That’s the greatest carnival act I’ve ever seen.” Now together, the seller and the artist are doing good, but they become so big that at a certain point, the seller, the Put your name on everything but create nothing new, begins to become dominant. And to me, that’s the metaphor for the American era. America has brought us so many moments of astonishing creative synthesis, so many astonishing, unprecedented, rich and extraordinary ideas. But like in the movie, Elvis becomes subsumed by the salesman. What I’m trying to say is that I wouldn’t say the film is political, per se…

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