Priscilla Director Responds to Criticism: It's Not a Didactic Story
Sofia Coppola only wanted to provide the titular character's perspective on her life with Elvis Presley.
- Sofia Coppola's Priscilla is one of the most prominent films of 2023.
- The director had been thinking about the film for more than a decade before she began work on it.
- Coppola didn't want to give her opinion on Elvis and Priscilla's romance in the movie.
Although 2023 is full of high-profile premieres like Barbie, Oppenheimer, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and Fast X, there are just a few premieres that have shaped this year's artistic landscape. Poor Things, Killers of the Flower Moon, and Priscilla are undoubtedly among them. But while the former two have proven to be popular with critics and audiences, the latter has failed to win over viewers.
Based on Priscilla Presley's 1985 memoir, Elvis and Me, Sofia Coppola's big-screen adaptation of the story premiered exactly one month ago and has since stirred up quite a bit of controversy. From hatred for tarnishing the legendary singer's name to criticism for smoothing over the edges in the movie, the director has seemingly had it all. Now, Coppola has finally opened up about Priscilla and her intentions with the film.
Genesis of Priscilla
According to Sofia Coppola, she was introduced to the book in question over a decade ago, but at the time she thought the story was too similar to other female-centered biographies like Marie Antoinette. However, when the director discussed the book with her friends a few years ago, her interest in adapting it for the screen was rekindled.
Sofia Coppola's Perspective on the Film
Remarkably, Coppola didn't want to be preachy with her movie. Her only intention was to tell the story as Priscilla Presley herself told it, which is perhaps why the director didn't want to vilify anyone in the picture.
'I tried to be sensitive with all of the characters. I'm looking at the parents' point of view, but really looking through her eyes,' Coppola said in an interview. 'I don't want to speak for her [Priscilla], but I think it was such a different time that the terminology we use today wasn't even used. She doesn't look back on the experience in any kind of damaging way. She had a full relationship with him [Elvis], they were married, and they had a child. She still looks at it as the great love of her life.'
Ultimately, the Priscilla director wanted to give the audience some food for thought and let them draw their own conclusions about the characters in the story.
'I do like movies where things aren't all spelled out. I really just wanted to show this experience through her [Priscilla's] eyes, and then let the audience take it in however it affects them. It's tricky, because you don't want to be condoning things, but I thought her experience was unique and interesting enough just to present,' Coppola commented on her intentions with the film.
'There are elements of it that are also so relatable, so why not let the audience take from it what they want? I didn't want to villainize Elvis, but I did want to make it clear it was another era, and to show him as the human that she saw.'