Review by Robert Horton for Seattle Weekly
Almost 20 years ago I took off to Memphis by myself and stayed in a motel with a small, guitar-shaped swimming pool. It was across Highway 51 from Graceland.
The first thing I did was take the tour at Elvis Presley’s mansion. It seemed natural at the time, but in recent years I have wondered: Why did I want to see Graceland? I like Elvis, and I like Americana, and Graceland’s blend of excess, tragedy, and kitsch was right up my alley. People of every variety, from all over the world, were on the tour. But really: Why were we there? Surely it’s partly because the life of Elvis—an age-old story of innocence, success, decline, and exaltation—resonates in ways that go beyond his music, enough that we all performed a pilgrimage to this secular shrine. But that still doesn’t quite explain it.
Documentary filmmaker Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) explores the Elvis mythology in The King, but he’s not so interested in the why.