Cannes was shaken, rattled and rolled on Wednesday as the world premiere of ‘Elvis’ rocked the film festival on the French Riviera, in what has proven a vintage year for music-lovers.
The highly anticipated new film is the latest from Australia’s Baz Luhrmann, the technicolour maestro behind ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘Moulin Rouge!’.
He wore a rhinestone Elvis belt buckle and a blingy pinkie ring with his tuxedo as he walked the famous red carpet for the premiere in one of the glitziest evenings of the 12-day festival.
The movie sees rising star Austin Butler, 30, step into the blue suede shoes of Elvis Presley, and whispers around the Cannes Film Festival suggest it will rocket him into the A-list.
It also features Tom Hanks as The King’s infamous manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
It has been warmly welcomed by the family of Presley, who died in 1977 at the age of 42 after a descent into drug addiction.
His granddaughter Riley Keough, who happened to be at Cannes with her directorial debut ‘War Pony’ last week, said she recently watched the film with her mother, Lisa Marie Presley, and grandmother, Priscilla Presley.
“There’s a lot of family trauma and generational trauma that started around there. It was a very intense experience,” Keough told reporters.
Priscilla Presley was a guest at the premiere, as well as pop stars Kylie Minogue, Shakira and Ricky Martin.
Luhrmann has become a favourite at Cannes, having wowed critics with his debut ‘Strictly Ballroom’ in 1992, and opening the festival twice, with ‘Moulin Rouge!’ and ‘Gatsby’.
Celebrating its 75th edition, the festival has been a feast for music lovers this year.
There were rave reviews for a new documentary about David Bowie, ‘Moonage Daydream’ — part of a recent wave of innovative films about music legends.
“It’s not a biography,” its director, Brett Morgen, told AFP. “The film is meant to be sublime, and kaleidoscopic, and kind of wash over you.”
Ethan Coen, one half of the beloved Coen brothers film-making duo, was also in Cannes to present a documentary about another rock’n’roll pioneer, Jerry Lee Lewis.
Both films eschew expert talking heads in favour of a more immersive experience.
“I don’t care what experts say,” Coen told AFP at the festival. “Jerry Lee is a performer so I want to see the performance - not what some expert thinks about it.”
As arguably the world’s leading film festival, Cannes seeks a line-up that balances hard-hitting dramas, arthouse experimentation and blockbuster spectacles.
This year has seen plenty of Hollywood glamour, with ‘Elvis’ preceded by last week’s launch of “Top Gun: Maverick”, which brought Tom Cruise and a French Air Force display team to the red carpet.
Other stars making an impression on Wednesday evening were Sharon Stone in a pair of Elvis-like aviator shades, and Brazilian model Adriana Lima showing off her baby bump in what appeared to be a homage to Princess Leia’s slave outfit from ‘Return of the Jedi’.
Meanwhile, a selection of more arthouse films are competing for the top prize, the Palme d’Or.
No clear frontrunner has emerged from the 21 films in competition, with critics deeply divided over almost every entry.
Perhaps the best critical reception up to now has been for ‘Decision to Leave’ by South Korean director Park Chan-wook, known for his 2003 thriller ‘Oldboy’.
The awards, to be presented on Saturday, are decided by a jury of film professionals — this year including Indian superstar Deepika Padukone, Iran’s two-time Oscar winner Asghar Farhadi and led by French actor Vincent Lindon.