Elvis Director Baz Lurhmann In Conversation With His Friend And Collaborator Miuccia Prada

MP: [Laughs.]

BL: “We argue about it and I just don’t believe it. You may not see it, but I see you expressing the world… you’re under different pressures than I am. You have to get out an expression four or five plus times a year. So much! I don’t know how you do it, I couldn’t do it. But when you were doing your ‘banana look’, I remember we talked about that. Remember the crazy banana dresses? That was a time when actually people needed a bit of – for want of a better word – humor and silliness and joy and irony. We needed that! But I see when you are making your work, even right now, it doesn’t mean it’s not sensual or it’s not smart, but you’re always either subconsciously or consciously trying to reflect the world around you. ”

MP: “Yes, for sure I do. And I’m completely into that, but I don’t want to declare it. One of my sons told me you should take positions, you should talk, otherwise you can’t sustain your ideas, and actually that is the problem of the famous intelligentsia, or the leftist intelligentsia, that because they don’t want to go into the arena of superficiality and so on, they shut up. ”

BL: “Only the loudest get heard.”

MP: “The loudest, exactly.”

BL: “In the movies, the reason I wanted to do the film of Elvis is because it’s not about Elvis Presley, it’s about America in the 1950s, ’60s and’ 70s, and more importantly, it’s about a man called Colonel Tom Parker [Elvis’s manager, played by Tom Hanks] who was never a colonel, never a Tom, and never a Parker. He was a carnival barker and snake-oil salesman who was selling Elvis. Now together, Elvis absorbs all sorts of influences he grew up with: country and western, rhythm and blues, and most importantly, gospel. Gospel music is life. ”

MP: “I read that, and thought that was very, very interesting.”

BL: “So Elvis grows up in one of the white-designated houses in a Black community. Colonel Tom Parker is a fraud and he doesn’t care about music, but he sees Elvis’s effect on an audience and goes, ‘That is the greatest carnival act I’ve ever seen.’ Now together, the salesman and the artist do great, but they become so big that at a certain point, the salesman, the ‘put your name on every single thing but don’t create anything new’ starts to become dominant. And to me, that’s the metaphor that happens in the ‘American era’. America has brought us so many moments of amazing creative synthesis, so many amazing, brand-new, rich and extraordinary ideas. But as in the movie, Elvis becomes subsumed by the salesman. What I’m trying to say is, I wouldn’t say the film is political, per se… ”

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