How the Elvis Movie Subverts His Most Famous Song Twice


The 2022 movie Elvis allowed the audience to get a closer look at the man behind the music, but of course the music was also a big part of the attraction. The king of rock and roll brought to light tons of his greatest hits, all brought to life like never before thanks to the presence of actor Austin Butler. One of those songs is the timeless beauty “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” though it’s not used the way most would expect.

The tune is easily one of Elvis’ most popular, having appeared in countless movies and TV shows that have nothing to do with the musical icon. So its use as a rather tragic storytelling device is incredibly artistic from director Baz Luhrmann, turning what could easily be mundane into something beautifully heartbreaking. With the film now available to watch on HBO Max, here’s how Elvis did not rush foolishly with the king’s song.

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Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Uses “I Can’t Stop Falling In Love” To Spark Tragic Love

The first time the notes for “Can’t Help Falling in Love” appear in Elvis, it is in a somewhat expected way. Said fashion is that Elvis is first romantically involved with Priscilla, his future wife. This, of course, seems to fit the romantic nature of the song and its use elsewhere, but it actually just sows the seeds of heartache down the line. The second use of the melody is when Elvis plays a show in Las Vegas. There it takes on a much less uplifting nature, with Priscilla, who is now married to Elvis, noticing how he reacts to the crowd. She realizes that she will never be as loved by him as her fans, the song being as much a love ballad between Elvis and the crowd as it is a tragic reminder of Priscilla’s reality.

The final use of “Can’t Help Falling in Love” seals this doomed relationship, as it is used in the scene where Elvis and Priscilla say their final on-screen goodbyes after their marriage ends. Elvis worries about being remembered by the world at large, while Priscilla just wants him to get help and treatment for his harmful drug addiction. As the two parts unfold once and for all, the song plays in a depressing minor key, emphasizing the limits of love.

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Best Elvis Song Used Oppositely in Elvis (2022)

As mentioned, many movies and TV shows use “Can’t Help Falling in Love” as it’s meant to be used: as a love ballad. After all, the song is meant to represent the singer’s undying, undying affection for his beloved, making it perfect for both media and real-life wedding scenes. A particularly popular use in modern film was, surprisingly, The Conjuring 2. This horror film was based on real life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, a married couple whose relationship becomes an increasingly central part of the film series.

In the second film, Ed sings the song to a group of people, including his wife, Lorraine. Although it’s almost comical at first, Ed’s singing and staring at his wife help create a sweet scene in a terrifying film. Curiously, the Elvis the film would only use it in this way once before fitting into a full-fledged horror story. Although the love shared between Ed and Lorraine may have been enough to overcome the wiles of demons and ghosts, it ultimately wasn’t enough to save Elvis and Priscilla’s marriage. It again shows the reality behind the pop songs, illustrating the heartache in the life of the man who sang them.

At the same time, the song is once again indicative of Elvis’ love and adoration for his fans. The third time he plays, he fears that he will not be remembered. This concern would, of course, be incredibly unfounded, as the king of rock and roll had already amassed a legion of fans around the world by then. Now he’s immortalized and idolized more than ever in music covers, books and, of course, movies, so Elvis fans still can’t help but fall in love with him and his songs.

Elvis is now streaming on HBO Max.


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