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Buy from Amazon

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Kultur presents
Why Elvis? (2004)

"It's musical genius that makes Elvis worth remembering." 
- music writer Stanley Booth

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: June 28, 2005

Stars: Elvis Presley, Mojo Nixon, Sam Phillips
Director: David Leonard

MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:14m:53s
Release Date: June 28, 2005
UPC: 032031169791
Genre: rock


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- C+CB D-

DVD Review

Because he was The King, that's why. The title of this documentary poses a vague question, and, unsurprisingly, offers equally vague answers; the Elvis industry has become so extensive that if you're a fan, you probably know just about everything that's here, and if you're just being initiated into the ways of Elvis, this may not be the best place to start. The appropriate jumping-off point would be with Presley himself; but this isn't an officially approved and licensed look at Elvis Presley, and hence completely absent are his words and his music. But it is sort of a video scrapbook of the state of the Elvis business circa 1991.

The director, David Leonard, also serves as our host—welcome to Memphis, the center of the Elvis universe. Leonard gives us a brief history of the city, the birth of the blues, and the establishment of the town as a tourist destination for Presley fans; some of the most interesting aspects of this documentary are about Memphis's radio station, the first of its kind in the U.S., to play music exclusively by blacks, and the formative influence this was on the young Presley. Some of the usual suspects are here, those familiar from the Elvis story—these include Sam Phillips, Presley's producer at Sun Records, and Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana, Elvis' first guitarist and drummer, respectively. There are a few well-chosen words from Peter Guralnick, author of the best Presley biography yet published; but getting much more screen time are those who worked for the King (Elvis' barber, Elvis' cook, Elvis' nurse), or those whose claims are even more tenuous: the Elvis impersonator whose Mom dated Elvis, for instance, or Tatiana Uretzkayava, proclaimed as the biggest Elvis fan in Russia.

Forget about the prescription medications, and call the probate lawyer; part of the discussion is about Elvis' poor estate planning. The film's final part is devoted to self-described "Elvis people," those who make the annual pilgrimage to Memphis each August to commemorate Presley's death; there's a quasi-religious aspect to their devotion to Elvis, and there's the suggestion that Presley may become, if not a religious icon, at least a figure of legend, like Johnny Appleseed. There's some obligatory pooh-poohing of the frequent Weekly World News headlines that Elvis is still alive; it's all taken very seriously, so the welcome breath of fresh air is provided by Mojo Nixon and his goofy song, Elvis is Everywhere

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The video quality here looks awfully degraded; it's the look you get when something's been duped down a few too many times, and frequently looks pretty amateurish.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Limited dynamics, but all audible.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Only chapter stops.

Extras Grade: D-

 

Final Comments

If you've got a standing reservation at a Memphis hotel in August for Elvis week, then this DVD is for you; but if, like most, you don't genuflect before any bit of Presleyiana, a greatest hits CD might be a better buy. 

 


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