17 user 58 critic

The King (2017)

2:31 | Trailer
Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, a musical road trip across America in his 1963 Rolls Royce explores how a country boy lost his authenticity and became a king while his country lost her democracy and became an empire.


Eugene Jarecki


Eugene Jarecki, Christopher St. John (co-writer)
1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »


Credited cast:
Alec Baldwin ... Self
Tony Brown Tony Brown ... Self
James Carville ... Self - US Political Analyst
Rosanne Cash ... Self
Chuck D ... Self
Maggie Clifford Maggie Clifford ... Self
Lana Del Rey ... Self
Emi Sunshine & The Rain Emi Sunshine & The Rain ... Themselves
EmiSunshine EmiSunshine ... Self
Jane Fonda ... Self (archive footage)
Radney Foster ... Self
Patricia Gaines Patricia Gaines ... Self
Mary Gauthier Mary Gauthier ... Self
Emmylou Harris ... Self
Ethan Hawke ... Self
Learn more

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Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, a musical road trip across America in his 1963 Rolls Royce explores how a country boy lost his authenticity and became a king while his country lost her democracy and became an empire.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Rise of a King, the Fall of an Empire.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

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User Reviews

A dense and impactful Documentary, but stretches the concept too much
2 July 2018 | by gortxSee all my reviews

Unorthodox documentary not so much "about" Elvis Presley, but about how Elvis affected --and was affected by -- American culture. The gimmick Director Eugene Jarecki employs is that he purchased Elvis' actual Rolls Royce, and then films interviews of a wide variety of folks in that vehicle as it travels across the places that Elvis himself stayed at various points in his life, from his hometown in Tupelo Mississippi to Memphis (although, curiously, Graceland is barely mentioned) and places in between.

Even though Jarecki doesn't give us a straightforward biography of Presley, THE KING does a pretty fine job of covering the bases, even if indirectly. The most effective part of the Doc comes early on in a discussion of whether Elvis was a cultural appropriator of black music, culminating in his early crowning as The King Of Rock And Roll. The movie gives a fair-minded balance of pro and con with people like Presley's guitarist Scotty Moore, Emmylou Harris and John Hiatt on one side and rapper Chuck D on the other (he, of the infamous song lyric: "Elvis was a hero to most. But he never meant **** to me you see."). There's also a clip of Big Mama Thornton's blistering original version of "Hound Dog". Jarecki then follows Elvis' travels to NYC and even bigger fame and riches. Then, it's off to the Army and Presley's decline into B movies and Vegas schmaltz. The clips of 'fat Elvis' at the end are truly shocking even all these decades later.

Where Jarecki over-reaches is that he isn't satisfied just showing Elvis' effect on the public, but then tries to tie it in with today's culture wars. Shot during the 2016 campaign with such guests as Alec Baldwin, Van Jones and James Carville, Jarecki makes tenuous connections. VERY tenuous connections. No question that Elvis was a seismic force when he hit, but, save for the brief glory period after the '68 Comeback Special, Presley can hardly be looked upon as a central artistic force after the very early 60s. While significant figures can certainly have a long influence, the fact that Elvis passed on in 1977 makes it a stretch to say that he is symbol of our Red-Blue state America today. If anything, Elvis is the very definition of 'Purple' celebrity - equally loved by all demos.

Even with this central flaw, there is no question that THE KING is a dense, engaging Documentary. One can't help but feel that they have gone on some sort of journey itself, much like Elvis's well-traveled Rolls itself.

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Official Sites:

Official site


Germany | USA



Release Date:

22 June 2018 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The King See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$29,050, 24 June 2018

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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