“If Elvis is your metaphor for America … we’re about to OD,” intones a somber voiceover in the new trailer for upcoming documentary The King. “Elvis” of course refers to Presley, the rock ‘n roll king who earned that rarest of achievements in American pop culture: The complete domination of a single name to such an extent that everyone in the country knows who you’re talking about when you say “Elvis.”
The new documentary latches on to one object in particular in reflecting upon the many sides of Elvis, the King’s prized 1963 Rolls-Royce. The car embarks upon “a musical road trip across America,” picking up “a diverse cast of Americans, both famous and non,” along the way, to share various anecdotes revolving around Presley. As the synopsis reads:
Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, two-time Sundance Grand Jury winner Eugene Jarecki’s new film takes the King’s 1963 Rolls-Royce on a musical road trip across America. From Memphis to New York, Las Vegas, and beyond, the journey traces the rise and fall of Elvis as a metaphor for the country he left behind. In this groundbreaking film, Jarecki paints a visionary portrait of the state of the American Dream and a penetrating look at how the hell we got here.
Among the names featured throughout are Rosanne Cash, Lana Del Rey, Ethan Hawke, Emmylou Harris, Mike Myers, John Hiatt and many more. Alec Baldwin briefly appears in the trailer, sitting in the back of Presley’s former car, ruminating on what certainly sounds like politics: “America’s great when it does great things. Well, America’s been doing a lot of bad things.” It’s certainly hard to disagree, vague though it may be.
All in all, the film looks like an emotional journey that uses the King’s legend as a pivot point to discuss both the America of Elvis’ day and the America of today. Check out the trailer below. The King hits theaters on June 22, 2018.