The King

The King

  • BY Eugene Jarecki | IN Music
    Premiered January 28, 2019

About the Film

Is the promise of the "American Dream" alive or a concept that's faded in the rear-view mirror?

Forty years after the death of Elvis Presley, acclaimed filmmaker Eugene Jarecki takes the King’s 1963 Rolls-Royce on a musical road trip across America in search of not only Elvis's legacy but the fate of the American Dream and the consequences of "cashing in" to try to achieve it. The King is a cautionary snapshot of America at a critical time in the nation’s history, painting a parallel portrait of the nation’s own heights and depths, from its inspired origins to its perennial struggles with race, class, power, and money.    MORE

From Memphis to New York, Las Vegas, and beyond, the journey traces the rise and fall of Elvis as a metaphor for the country he left behind. A diverse cast of regular Americans join music icons and celebrities including Rosanne Cash, Chuck D, Emmylou Harris (who says in the film, “Maybe [Elvis] was the king but he was doomed”), Van Jones, Ethan Hawke, Mike Myers, and Dan Rather, among many others, woven in with soaring live performances from artists as varied as teen Nashville phenomenon EmiSunshine, Mississippi bluesman Leo Bud Welch, New York City rapper Immortal Technique, the cool West Coast sounds of M. Ward, and the gospel stylings of Memphis’s Stax Music Academy.

The Filmmakers

Eugene Jarecki (Director/Writer/Producer) is an award-winning documentary director and producer. After directing The Trials of Henry Kissinger in 2002, Jarecki won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and a Peabody Award for his 2005 film Why We Fight. In 2010, he created Move Your Money, a viral short encouraging Americans to shift their money from “too big to fail” banks to community banks and credit unions. His Emmy-Award winning 2011 film, Reagan, premiered at Sundance before broadcasting on HBO. The House I Live In, his 2013 film about America’s War on Drugs, once again won him the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival as well as a second Peabody Award; its broadcast premiere was on Independent Lens. He executive produced the Sundance Award-winning documentary (T)ERROR, as well as Denial, which aired on PBS in 2017. In 2016, Jarecki directed The Cyclist as part of Amazon's “The New Yorker Presents” series. LESS

Film Credits

Edgewood Way Presents

In Association With
NDR, BR, Charlotte Street Films and Backup Studio

The King

A Ghost in the Machine Production

Christopher St. John
David Kuhn

Written and Directed by
Eugene Jarecki

Supervising Producer
Melinda Shopsin

Christopher St. John

Christopher Frierson
Georgina Hill

Manuel Chiche
Shirel Kozak
Andrew McLain

Consulting Producers
Peter Guralnick
Ethan Hawke
James Jaworowicz
John Battsek

Executive Producers
Steven Soderbergh
Errol Morris
Rosanne Cash
David Atlan-Jackson
Barbara Biemann
Sally Jo Fifer
Lois Vossen

Co-Executive Producers
Roy Ackerman
Hans Robert Eisenhauer
Nick Fraser
Dana O'Keefe

Etienne Sauret
Tom Bergmann

Nikola Chapelle

Original Score
Robert Miller
Antony Genn
Martin Slattery

Edited by
Simon Barker
Élia Gasull Balada
Alex Bingham
Laura Israel

Key Advisor
Claudia Becker

Road Crew Chief and Lion Tamer
Wayne Gerster

Story Producer
Lisa Pollak

Associate Producers
Jesus Hernandez
Erica Lichtenberger Vogel

Production Managers
Kara Elverson
Jesus Hernandez

Christopher Frierson
Derek Hallquist
Georgina Hill
Taylor Krauss
Torsten Lapp
Thorsten Thielow

Additional Camera
Sam Cullman
Michael Drucker
Andrew McLain
Francesca Kustra
Colin Sunner
Christopher St. John

First Assistant Camera
Tanner Carlson
Tom Donatelli
Michael Drucker

Co-Edited by
Betsy Kagen

Additional Editing
Ben Cortes
Daniel DiMauro
Jenny Golden
Francesca Kustra

Archival Producers
Rich Remsberg
Francesca Kustra

Archival Researcher
Gideon Kennedy

Offline Supervisor
Ben Cortes

Post-Production Advisor
Joe Beirne

First Assistant Editors
Ben Cortes
Francesca Kustra

Assistant Editors
Mitra Bonshahi
Janah Elise Cox
Sediqua Francis
Brian Purcell
Vanessa Trengrove
Andres Vergara

Post-Production Supervisor
Melinda Shopsin

Music Supervisor
David Kuhn

Post-Production Facility
Technicolor PostWorks NY

Benjamin Murray

DI Supervising Conform Editor
Ryan McMahon

DI Conform Editors
Keith Jenson
Sean Perry

DI Producer
Christina Delerme

DI Account Executive
Carol Jazwinski

Assistant Online Editors
Brian Keefe
Ross Hendrickson

Supervising Sound Editor and Re-Recording Mixer
Christopher Koch, CAS

Audio Post Assistant
Kahlin Whatley

Visual Effects
Mac Guff

Visual Effects Producer/Supervisor
Philippe Sonrier

Visual Effects Direction and Composition
Martial Vallanchon

Ben Cohen
Aaron Hodgins Davis
Paul Docherty

Legal Counsel
Jacqueline Eckhouse
David Kuhn

Additional Legal Services
Victoria Cook

E&O Legal Counsel
F. Robert Stein
Robert Clarida

Production Insurance
Kent Hamilton
Mike Groner

Production Accountants
Hermes Laoudas
Yelena Kirzhner
Lia McPherson

German Production Company
Charlotte Street Films, GmbH

German Legal Counsel
Christoph Fey

German Production Advisor
Dirk Wilutzky

German Unit Correspondent
Nora Colie

German Unit Camera
Tom Bergmann

German Accountants
Herbert Nather
Lukasz Gilles

Piano, Orchestration and Arrangements
Robert Miller

Tenor Saxophone
Aaron Heike

Tony Kadleck

Mike Davis

Music Mixers/Engineers
Florent Barbier
Marc McCusky
Ross Matthews

Assistant Engineer
Nick Green

Music Production Coordinator
Diane Cricchio

Distribution Services
UTA Independent Film Group

Archival Materials Provided by
* 1962 Seattle World's Fair films courtesy: Albert Fisher
* A/V Geeks
* ABC News Video Source
* Alamy
* AP Archive
* AP Images
* British Pathé
* Budget Films
* Buyout Footage
* CNN Archives
* CriticalPast
* F.I.L.M. Archives
* William Ferris
* Folkstreams
* Chad Freidrichs
* Getty Images
* Global ImageWorks, LLC
* Globe Photos
H. Lee Waters Film Collection, David M. Rubenstein - Rare Books & Manuscript Library, Duke University
* Historic Films
* Ina
* ITN Source
* J.M. Van Eaton
* James Jaworowicz
Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum
* National Archives and Records Administration
NBCUniversal Archives
* Oddball Films
* PeriscopeFilm
* The Phillips Family
* Pond5
* Prelinger Archives
* Producers Library
* Reelin' In the Years Productions
* Retro Video, Inc.
* Screenocean
* Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, Princeton University
* Showtime Networks
* Shutterstock
* Streamline Films
* The Image Works
* The Zarzour Family
* Travel Film Archive
* University of Nevada, Las Vegas


"Blue Yodel #6"
Written by Jimmy Rogers
Performed by EmiSunshine and the Rain

"Still a Fool"
Written by Muddy Waters
Performed by Leo "Bud" Welch

"A Long Journey"
Written & Performed by Leo "Bud" Welch

"Memphis City Blues"
Written by Marlon Goodwin, Premiro Smith, and Andy Thelusma
Performed by 8Ball & MJG
Courtesy of Bad Boy Records Inc.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing

Written by Anthony J. Brown
Performed by Stax Music Academy All-Stars

"Chain of Fools"
Written by Donald Covay
Performed by Stax Music Academy All-Stars

"Strange Fruit"
Written by Lewis Allan
Performed by Billie Holiday
Courtesy of Geffen Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises

"Rocket 88”
Written by Jackie Brenston
Performed by Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats
Courtesy of Geffen Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises

"Johnny, June, and Jesus"
Written by Alisha Karol Hamilton, Emilie Sunshine Hamilton, Kristal Kathleen Hill
Performed by EmiSunshine and the Rain

"Wind Don’t Have to Hurry"
Written & Performed by John Hiatt

"Train Song"
Written by Jennifer Bunyan, Clarye Alasdair, and Jenny Lewis
Performed by Kat Wright and Maggie Clifford
Licensed courtesy of Domino Publishing Company Ltd

"Harlem Streets" and "Rich Man’s World (1%)"
Written & Performed by Immortal Technique

"(How Much Is That) Doggie in the Window"
Written by Bob Merrill
Performed by Patti Page
Courtesy of Mercury Nashville Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Written by Jon Birgisson, Agust Gunnarsson, Georg Holm and Kjartan Sveinsson
Performed by Sigur RÓs
Courtesy of XL Recordings

Written & Performed by Lana Del Rey
Courtesy of Interscope Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises

"Glow Worm"
Written by Brett and Rennie Sparks
Performed by The Handsome Family
Published by Handsome Family Music Administered for North America by Music of Virtual and for the rest of the world by Touch Tones Music Ltd.
Courtesy of The Handsome Family and Virtual Label LLC

"Don’t Worry Baby"
Written by Roger Christian and Brian Wilson
Performed by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers

"Sad, Sad Song" and "Four Hours in Washington"
Written by Matthew Stephen Ward
Performed by M. Ward

“Also Sprach Zarathustra”
Written by Richard Strauss
Performed by Robert Miller Light Orchestra
Courtesy of C.F. Peters Corporation

Written by Eddie Cooley and John Davenport
Performed by Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers

"Unchained Melody"
Written by Hy Zaret and Alex North
Performed by Elvis Presley
Courtesy of Unchained Melody Publishing LLC

"Danny Ray"
Written by Alisha Karol Hamilton, Emilie Sunshine Hamilton
Performed by EmiSunshine

"Memphis Train to Heaven"
Written by Justin Merrick
Performed by Justin Merrick and Stax Music Academy All-Stars

"White Horse”
Written by Dorothy Cuylear, Natasha Cuylear, and Carla Cuylear
Performed by Lindy Vision

"Once Upon a Time"
Written & Performed by Robert Bradley

Special Thanks
Chateau Marmont
Christie's Auction House
The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Mike Coykendall
Cryptic Tattoo Shop
Dino's Restaurant
Elvis Presley Birthplace
DJ Fontana
Patricia Gaines
Marie Therese Guirgis
Alisha Hamilton
Harry Cipriani
Ella Hill
Diane Hill
Andrew Jarecki
Gloria Jarecki
Henry Jarecki
Lisa Lee
McSorley's Old Ale House
Oscar's Beef, Booze & Broads
Matthew Ruffino
Sam Phillips Recording Service
Dale Rushing
Nick Shumaker
John Sloss
Starline Tours
Stax Music Academy
Sun Records
Ted's Frostop
The University of Memphis ROTC
Brenda Tramontine
Melvin Van Peebles
Harvey Waldman
Jamie Wolf

Equipment Services Provided by

Commissioning Editor
Barbara Biemann

Production Executive
Daniel Buresch

For BR
Commissioner Editors
Carlos Gerstenhauer
Matthias Leybrand

Funding Provided by
Rosenthal Family Foundation

Original Series Funding Provided by
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Wyncote Foundation
The National Endowment for the Arts


This program was produced by GHOST IN THE MACHINE FILMS LLC, which is solely responsible for its content.

© Ghost in the Machine Films, 2018. All rights reserved.

In Loving Memory of Ralf Hoogestraat, Peter Hill, June Winhold, Leo "Bud" Welch, and Janie Chase Cozzi

What does Elvis Presley and his legacy represent to you? Is the American Dream dead, very much alive, or just resting? Is it possible to be a celebrity or obtain the dream life and not sell out?


  • News & Documentary Emmy Award
    Best Documentary & Outstanding Historical Documentary (Nominee)
  • Grammy Awards
    Best Music Film (Nominee)
  • Cannes Film Festival
    Golden Eye Award (Nominee)
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What does Elvis Presley and his legacy represent to you? Is the American Dream dead, very much alive, or just resting? Is it possible to be a celebrity or obtain the dream life and not sell out?