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  • Writer's pictureVictoria Francesca

Rocketman: A Balance Between the Darkness & Fun of Elton John's Life

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

Opening Statement: I hope to enlighten my readers on a short journey into my views! I plan to post every other Sunday for the most part, excluding any spur of the moment ideas I may have or a busy schedule which may restrict me from posting that week. Thank you and enjoy!

Happy Sunday folks! I spent the majority of today painting and watching Rocketman, the film based on the life of Elton John. Right off the bat, I can say that I loved the raw passion and honesty in this film. Even though Rocketman had a fantasy-like quality, with musical numbers left and right, the heart of the story was very much real and alive. The movie had this sense that could only be summed up as "legendary," just as Elton John's life seems to be.

Starting from the top, I appreciated director, Dexter Fletcher's choice, in having Elton (played by Taron Egerton) burst through the rehabilitation doors dressed in bright oranges and reds with wings scaling past his height and horns sticking out of his head. It took me off guard at the very start, as it wasn't what I was expecting. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I was happy with Fletcher's decision, it was artistic and symbolic. It showed us that Elton had stopped everything in its tracks to get help at that point in his life, even if the world was assuming the show would continue on. The flashback storytelling, knits the entire series of events together, with the help of song and dance, and some incredibly emotional acting.

Taron Egerton's performance was excellent in my opinion. I found him to be moving, and he carried the ability to tell so much just with his facial expressions, specifically his eyes. This kept me glued to the screen, often pulling me from my painting, which I was eventually forced to put down as I was completely immersed in this soul-touching and exciting movie. Taron Egerton also took home a Golden Globe and Satellite Award for Best Actor in Rocketman. There is this absolutely fabulous moment toward the middle of the story, where things have truly heightened for the rockstar and drugs have taken over much of his life. It is a moment between Elton and his very good friend and songwriter Bernie Taupin (played by Jamie Bell) right before a show. The two get into a spat, while Elton is hyped on drugs and overwhelmed with the pressure, ending with Elton shouting at Bernie and walking toward stage. Seconds later, he walks back toward Bernie again and grabs his hand, saying, "I'm sorry," for which Bernie replies, "I know." It is a painfully lovely moment between the two, as we really see the type of relationship they share, which both actors wonderfully brought to life. The two actors continually bring such energy to the characters throughout the entirety of Rocketman as well.

Switching gears a bit, the costuming and makeup/hair design was spot on to the real costumes and hair of Elton John. Even the slight balding was a nice touch and added to the realism of the film in connection to the very real individual it is about. We can thank Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and many talented others for that! There is a cool moment during the credits, where original photographs of Elton John are shown, where he is wearing outfits that were almost identical to the ones recreated for Taron Egerton. So if you are watching this film for the first time, be sure to stick around for those awesome credits!

As mentioned earlier in this post, the raw passion and honesty that exists amongst the extravagance and wildness in Rocketman, is truly what moved me to write about it. From the very beginning, young Elton (played by Matthew Illesley) is neglected in many ways by his parents, which we are able to watch fuel him as an artist and a human being (sometimes for the worse and sometimes for the better). The honesty appears when a slightly older Elton (played by Kit Connor), his father (Steven Mackintosh), mother (Bryce Dallas Howard), and grandmother (Gemma Jones), all sing "I Want Love," which touched my heart. This scene and this song are used to look at all of these important characters in Elton's life, and show that at the end of the day, all they really want is love. It's a beautiful scene that I enjoyed, mainly because of how true it really is. Often, the most difficult of people, such as the way Elton John's parents are portrayed, are really crying out for love, but simply do not know how to express it. This part of the film, and many others, bring up very real emotions and circumstances that I see as relatable, to which are accomplished in a colorful and musical way throughout the story.

Rocketman is drenched in passion, from Elton's love life, to his friendships, his childhood, and of course toward his music. In this film, I saw passion in many forms, anger, love, celebration, pain, and passion through art. A lot of this passion is expressed through song and dance in the story. My father and I were speaking and he mentioned that at first he was disappointed that Rocketman was a musical movie, but then found himself loving it toward the end. I see it as one of the best ways to make a film about Elton John, considering that music is the core of his life. There is a great article written by Elton John himself in The Guardian that talks about his input, opinion, and more, in terms of how his life was portrayed in Rocketman. It's a great read, especially if you enjoyed Rocketman! If you'd like to check it out, I will link it below this post!

There is this sense of a "legendary" story (and life) that I mention above, which reached out to me in a lot of ways throughout this film. Biopics always excite me, there is something about knowing that these stories are based on the lives of actual people, that makes me eager to watch them. Often, these biopics, specifically about musicians (Bohemian Rhapsody as another example) have this quality to preserve and elaborate the legacy that is the musician. And it seems that rockstars just really carry this vibe and air, even with all the pain and suffering that exists for many of them. These movies do an excellent job, in my opinion, at bringing this sense to life and it almost makes me want to pick up my old guitar again and begin rocking out. I don't know, I may be rambling, but I not only see, but feel such a raw passion that exists in the souls of musicians. And it's not just the fame and fortune, it's the music-making that does it. To watch someone lose themselves to the tunes coming from their own brain, is enough to make me want to experience the same - minus all the drugs of course! I love many different art forms, and I personally see music as the most captivating, intense, and well, legendary of the many forms that I love! (Although, they all excite me!) And to add another layer onto all of this, some incredibly talented filmmakers, such as Dexter Fletcher and Bryan Singer (director of Bohemian Rhapsody), are able to collect all of these thoughts and emotions, and conjure up a powerful story in two hours that can create such reactions as mine. I get chills just thinking about it all, it's so brilliant in my eyes! I wish to create stories that allow people to feel just as I do right now!

There wasn't much that I disliked about Rocketman, although I am trying to add some more criticism to these posts because looking back at some of my older ones, I've noticed that I just seem to "love" everything so much! But of course, it's important as an aspiring storyteller and artist, to look at things with a critical eye at times. I just usually don't find myself wanting to write about films I didn't enjoy watching. With all that said, I found the ending to be rather abrupt. Elton John's life was becoming rather difficult, and after a near-death experience, Elton walks out of his concert venue and heads toward a rehabilitation center. From this point on, the flashbacks come to an end and we are in the present with Elton, in his support group at the facility. After a meaningful moment between Bernie and Elton, the end seems to come rather quickly. The film closes with "I'm Still Standing," and some fun little film work that I won't spoil for you if you haven't watched it yet! Let's just say, the ending may look very familiar to Elton John fans out there! In sum, I just felt that the ending and his recovery happened very fast, but another argument could suggest that the entire film is his recovery anyway, since it's all shown through flashback. Therefore, implying that we experience his triumph over his addiction and childhood issues without physically seeing it happen on screen. Still, I feel there was potential for more content between the end of the flashback and "I'm Still Standing," which closes the film, yet I am happy with the ending scenes that do exist in the final product. Slightly all over the place, I know, but I really enjoy discussing what is, what worked/didn't work, and also, what other choices could have been made in a film.

Overall, Rocketman was filled with heart, honesty, and fun, and I enjoyed the ride. I believe Taron Egerton's performance was compelling and full, and moving at all points of the film. If you haven't seen Rocketman yet, I suggest you do, it has all the qualities to not disappoint! I hope you are all keeping well during this time and I wish you a Happy Memorial Day! Stay safe!

~Francesca Reviews

The Guardian Article by Elton John!


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Disclaimer: All of my posts are based off of my own knowledge, opinion, and beliefs and this blog is only meant to be a platform to share those things with the world. I am always open to hear what you all have to say about the topics I write about, listening to many perspectives can only enhance my knowledge! Therefore, feel free to start a friendly conversation sharing your opinions! Thank you!


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