The model of Priscilla Presley who lingers in popular culture—darkish eyeliner, teased hair, immaculate robes—is the first one we see in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, performed by Olivia DeJonge and seen primarily as a witness to the central drama between Elvis and Colonel Tom Parker. The majority of their relationship happened within the Nineteen Sixties, a interval skimmed over by a montage.
However Priscilla is about to inform her facet of the story—and already did, really, within the 1985 memoir Elvis and Me, which Sofia Coppola has tailored for her upcoming movie, Priscilla. Cowritten with Sandra Harmon, the ebook recounts the connection from the second a 14-year-old Priscilla met Elvis at a celebration to his demise in 1977, 4 years after their divorce. The ebook is stuffed with eye-popping private particulars, from a few of her and Elvis’s nicknames for one another (Sattnin, Little One) to their bed room exploits involving role-play and Polaroids. It additionally depicts a model of Elvis very completely different from the wide-eyed, well-intentioned boy in Luhrmann’s movie. Surrounded always by his entourage and managed intently by his father and by Colonel Parker, Elvis had treasured little management over his personal life—however in Priscilla’s telling, he had full management over her.
The daughter of an Air Power captain, Priscilla was dwelling along with her household in Wiesbaden, Germany, on the identical time that Elvis, the largest rock star on the planet, was stationed in Germany as a part of his army deployment. The ninth grader was invited to a celebration at Elvis’s home by certainly one of his pals, who persuaded her mother and father to let her attend by promising she could be chaperoned. Elvis singled her out from the gang, and the 2 spent hours collectively in his bed room—chastely, in Priscilla’s telling—earlier than his army service ended a couple of months later. Elvis returned to life as a celeb and a relationship with actor Anita Wooden; Priscilla returned to highschool. “I need you to vow me you’ll keep the way in which you might be,” he advised her earlier than he left. “Untouched, as I left you.”
Two years later, when Priscilla was 16, Elvis invited her to go to him for 2 weeks in Los Angeles, and regardless of guarantees to her mother and father that she could be chaperoned your entire time, they snuck away to Las Vegas. By the point she was 17 she was dwelling at Graceland, staying up all night time with Elvis and his entourage after which attending an area Catholic highschool the following morning. “Day after day I drove to high school, attended courses until midday, then returned to Graceland to slide again into mattress and cuddle subsequent to Elvis, who was nonetheless snoozing,” Priscilla writes. She ultimately joins Elvis in taking sleeping drugs in addition to fat burners, counting on them to get by her ultimate exams. “I used to be main a double life—a schoolgirl by day, a femme fatale at night time.”
Controlling however loving within the early days, Elvis turns into extra mercurial as their relationship developed, and Priscilla writes about her choice to divorce him as, primarily, turning into her personal particular person for the primary time. “He taught me every thing: learn how to gown, learn how to stroll, learn how to apply make-up and put on my hair, learn how to behave, learn how to return love—his manner,” she writes early within the ebook. “Over time, he grew to become my father, husband, and really almost God.”
By the point she was writing the ebook in 1985 Priscilla appeared conscious of how this controlling, deeply energy imbalanced relationship was damaging to her. However the story would undeniably be obtained otherwise in the present day, given present conversations about consent and grooming minors. Which is certainly one of many causes to be fascinated by the arrival of Coppola’s Priscilla, which can debut on the Venice Movie Competition and arrive in theaters from A24 in October. Coppola, in spite of everything, already made a film about one other well-known baby bride, Marie Antoinette, capturing each the younger princess’s naivete and her eventual dominance within the freewheeling French court docket. Sections of Priscilla’s life at Graceland really feel an entire lot like Marie Antoinette, even when the relative recency of her relationship with Elvis will make it so much tougher to spin the story as heightened fantasy.