Seeking Elvis: The King Lives On

2012, Society  -  41 min Leave a Comment
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Few celebrity icons match Elvis Presley's immortality when it comes to a passionate and unrelenting fan base, a fact filmmaker Andrew Materi explores in Seeking Elvis: The King Lives On. A film about fans, for fans and made by a fan, it is not just about Elvis' impassioned admirers; issues such as image licensing, music piracy, and intellectual property play an important role in The King's everlasting idolatry. Focusing on how people "seek" Elvis, we meet both fans who want to feel closer to him as well as profiteers seeking to cash in on said fans.

Elvis Presley Enterprises (EPE), a legal entity tasked with maintaining the Elvis brand, attempts as best they can to exert control of Presley's likeness, music, and even the name "Graceland." The EPE will not license materials that portray him in a negative light - no "fat Elvis" and no "druggie Elvis." The Personal Rights Protection Action, aka the 'Elvis Law', protects Presley's intellectual property rights forever; however, the "bootleg" Elvis industry is so vast they can do little to exert as much control as they would like. (The film itself is not endorsed by or affiliated with EPE, and notes an adherence to best practices with regards to Fair Use and Copyright law.)

In one example we meet Reno Fontana, co-owner of Elvis' former Palm Springs home and recipient of several Cease and Desist orders from EPE over his unlicensed use of Elvis' name and image; yet Fontana continues to operate his tourist attraction successfully. The various expressions of Elvis obsession on display here not only include landmark locations, but personal items, impersonators, and even paranormal outreach to the King. One of the most notable personal items comes in the form of a framed pair of unwashed, stained underwear, which were listed for auction at an estimated value of $15,000.

A goofy, independent short which leans on cartoonish motion graphics to supplement interview footage, Seeking Elvis celebrates the cult of Elvis and the empire built around his image while investigating the exploitation of his brand and the EPE's attempts to protect against Elvis "image Piracy."