Film Review: “The King” (2017) ★★★★

the king
Photo by Oscilloscope Laboratories – © Oscilloscope Laboratories 2018

How many people dream of becoming famous? How many out there want to walk the red carpet with an overwhelming number of fans standing there to cheer? This is just one side of the coin. But do we really try to put ourselves into the shoes of that individual to experience what he or she is going through on a daily basis just to satisfy the requirements set by the big film industry? Oh well, we all love judging. We all love talking. We all can’t wait to gossip and pay little attention to what really happens around the world. The world is too little for us, but big enough for someone else to handle.

Too much can be written but it still won’t be enough to convey the full context of “The King”. Yes, it’s about Elvis Presley. It’s about the road trip that tries to explore the legacy of Elvis Presley, his life, the impact of what he did or would not do, the politics, sickening society, products we create that at some point will expire, same as the energy and the spirit of a human being if we start over-abusing it. I kept asking myself every time when I turn on the news, what went wrong, what happened to the American dream? Why the democracy that was not for sale suddenly disappeared like it never existed?

Why do people admire those who couldn’t care less about their existence? Unfortunately, but in a good way, “The King” captures what a single mind can barely comprehend but unfolds the sad reality of being hugely impacted by unseen forces that hits our minds so straight and with such determination that it can paralyze any sane mind. As it tries to provide an impact of Elvis Presley, the movie manages to show why it’s bad when you can no longer be yourself. We find Elvis Presley still young, energetic, ambitious and ready to conquer the world. But guess what? It was him who was absorbed, conquered and defeated by a hungry, thirsty and greedy world that promised him the American dream which he learns in the hard way that it does not exist.

The best thing about Eugene Jarecki’s brilliant documentary piece is that it never hesitates to open a discussion about the brand America created. How, for instance, for whatever reasons, Elvis Presley decided to remain as an entertainer while Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda would never stop using their power and influence they had to improve the world. Then, it speaks about racism, why the white market would prefer to have Elvis than someone who fails to match the skin of their color. While the film never blames Presley for doing what he did, perhaps it shows his weaknesses as an entertainer whose opinion did not matter other than the voice he had meant to sing songs.

Then, the film turns its attention to the present, kind of, giving an answer to why Trump became the President of the United States. Why the people failed to make their own decision and why the mass opinion prevailed over common sense. And why the democracy the country once knew is no longer there. It is all because of the loss of taste in music and art. We no longer want quality. We want excitement. All what we need is an object we can pray for. That object was Elvis Presley, then it was Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson and many more exceptionally talented people whose only crimes were their willingness to share with us what we did not deserve to have.

In conclusion, there’s a lot going on in Eugene Jarecki’s “The King. It’s thought-provoking, ambitious and brave. It’s sad and horrifying to watch. The way he makes his film is almost like having a mirror reflection on something that can appear in our worst nightmares. But it also shows us why we must not take things for granted. Why before taking something we must take a second and think about it – is it good for us, for you or for me? And if yes, what is the impact this may have on us? And the question we should all ask ourselves, where to go from this moment on? If there are three paths to choose – 1. A bright future; 2. A dark future; or heading towards indifference? Whatever it is, my dear reader, let’s not make it worse.

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