Director Baz Luhrmann, who coined the term “Red Curtain Trilogy” for his films “Strictly Ballroom,” “Moulin Rouge” and “Romeo and Juliet,” says his latest film, “Elvis,” marks a visual…
Director Baz Luhrmann, who coined the term “Red Curtain Trilogy” for his films “Strictly Ballroom,” “Moulin Rouge” and “Romeo and Juliet,” says his latest film, “Elvis,” marks a visual shift in his catalog from red to blue.
At Variety‘s Artisans Screening Series, Luhrmann discussed how blue was a primary color used to ground “Elvis” and his rise from Mississippi to the bright lights of Las Vegas. The director was joined by costume designer, production designer and producer Catherine Martin, cinematographer Mandy Walker, editor Jonathan Redmond, production designer Karen Murphy and re-recording mixer Andy Nelson.
Martin, who is married to Luhrmann, explained that Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) loved blue, so when it came to designing sets with co-production designer Murphy, that color was at the front of her mind.
Said Martin, “The thing about Priscilla [Presley] and her costuming in that period, there was meant to be an ingénue quality about her and freshness. She brought something vital and encouraging to Elvis in the story.”
Martin dressed actress Olivia DeJonge, who plays Priscilla, in tweeds and gingham prints, which represented a freshness. She said, “Priscilla has a sense of agency… She has made an extraordinary life for herself despite the extraordinary things that have happened to her. You see a progression in her costumes, and when she goes into the trailer, she is his port in the storm, and she is a moral center for him.”
For Elvis, Martin designed a lot of Napoleonic collars and big oversized collars that would sit outside his oversized blazers. The idea was that the collars would help draw attention to Austin Butler’s face.
Luhrmann said, “He copied Napoleon’s collars. When I think about Napoleonic characters, one also thinks about counts… and the vampirish quality.”
As the filmmaker pointed out, not only was blue used to mirror Presley’s psychological state of spiraling, it showed “that he is created of the night.” He said, “So, that scene (the ’68 special) when he’s ‘caught in a trap,’ he can’t get out and the blue reflected that.”
Does this mean Luhrmann is embarking on a “Blue Curtain Trilogy”? “I’m not sure it’s a trilogy because I might retire,” the director said. “But this language shifts and blue became a key color.”
Watch the full video above.