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Elvis Found Alive (DVD Review)

22 Jan, 2012 By: John Latchem

Street 1/24/12
MVD/Highway 61
$14.95 DVD
Not rated.

The idea that Elvis Presley is still alive is one of the more fascinating aspects of his legacy, and the elaborate conspiracy theories surrounding his death could fill volumes.

Speculation is one thing, but what if the man himself could explain it? That’s the clever premise behind Elvis Found Alive, a new biography about Presley’s life (and life after death) from filmmaker Joel Gilbert, who’s best known for his documentaries about Bob Dylan.

The setup comes courtesy of some poorly redacted documents sent to Gilbert’s documentary crew through a Freedom of Information Act request for the FBI’s files on Elvis.

The team is working on a retrospective of Elvis’ life and discovers a Witness Protection Program address in Simi Valley for Jon Burrows, which was an alias Elvis often used when he traveled.

The crew checks out the house, finds a 77-year-old Presley and gets him to sit down to an interview to discuss his life story.

There’s some top-notch use of archive photos and video to recap Presley’s career, shrewdly juxtaposed with images from the Captain Marvel Jr. comic books Elvis loved as a kid and saw as a parallel to his own life.

The first half of the film is pretty much just a recap of Elvis’ early years, family life, movie career and rise to music superstardom. Naturally, the story winds its way through Elvis’ respect for law enforcement and that famous photo of him and Nixon taken when he wanted to become a federal agent. The idea of Elvis Found Alive is that he actually joined the DEA to fight the mafia and other subversive organizations, and made a lot of enemies in the process.

The decision to fake his death in 1977 came after the Weather Underground, Black Panthers and the Mafia joined forces to put a contract on his life to stop his covert activities.

At this point the documentary plays around with a lot of the conspiracy theories about Elvis’ death as the King recounts what he’s been up to for the past 35 years and offers his opinions on how the world has changed (the story even has some fun with the Bill Ayers-Barack Obama connection).

The well-thought-out narrative incorporates a lot of the quirky real-life events associated with Elvis’ legacy. One of the most humorous involves a story about Nicolas Cage using the Captain Marvel Jr. storylines to determine that Elvis was still alive. So Elvis’ daughter, Lisa Marie, married Cage (which happened in 2002) in order to divorce him to gain access to his financial records, which Elvis gave to the IRS to keep Cage quiet.

And then there’s the reason he hasn’t come forward yet, which involves needing a pardon to clear him of a potential murder charge related to the incident in which two girls who were killed when a car plowed into a crowd of mourners outside of Graceland. He says Reagan would have pardoned him, but he forgot. And Obama won’t because of that Bill Ayers thing. This whole section is very tongue-in-cheek, leading to Elvis claiming he’ll make a comeback if Obama loses his re-election bid. Imagine that campaign promise!

The DVD also contains a sampler for a companion CD (sold separately) of 15 songs newly recorded by “Jon Burrows” after the interview. This is the kind of tribute that Elvis fans should enjoy immensely.

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