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The approach to telling the life story of a celebrity like Elton John is always a point of interest when discussing a film like Rocketman. Blame it on that ever blurry line between making a serious portrait of a person’s life, while also keeping things exciting. But if actor Taron Egerton is to be believed, this line won’t be that much of a problem, as Rocketman plans to use something special to marry the two sides of the issue: magical thinking.
This isn’t all that much of a surprise when you watch the trailers to director Dexter Fletcher’s biopic. Depicting moments like Elton John’s various performances at landmark venues like The Troubadour or Dodger Stadium with a sort of puckish edge to them, and with scenes that involve very musical staging and spectacle, Rocketman was always going to have somewhat of a magical quality to it.
But in a recent interview, Taron Egerton discussed more specific details on how the serious happenings in John’s very public past would mesh with these fantastical musical numbers. His remarks on this rather intereting blend were as follows:
Most of what is in the story really happened, but we've been able to embellish and make it all a bit magical. It's a story about someone going to rehab, and you can't really tell that story without visiting some of the darkness that leads someone to go there. It’s essentially a story about someone incredibly special and gifted. There aren't many people who have touched the world in the same way, really.
Despite the involvement of a rather controversial figure, the musical biopic Beyond The Sea is a good example of the sort of approach that Rocketman is looking to achieve. Using the song catalogue of Bobby Darin, that film took his life and times and told them with full song and dance numbers integrated in a way that didn’t step on his personal story.
One aspect that has some moviegoers worried about how Rocketman will take off with critics and audiences is another film that Dexter Fletcher had a hand in directing: the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. While Fletcher only directed the last third of the Academy Award winning film, the issue of how that particular picture treated the life of Freddie Mercury has film fans wondering if a similar coat of gloss will be layered onto Elton John’s own history.
With a life that included fights with cocaine addiction and bulimia, as well as personal pain involving the loss of friends like Mercury to the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, you can see how Rocketman could have the potential to drop the ball. But considering the care that’s been taken by the director (and Taron Egerton himself) regarding how Elton John’s personal struggles are presented in Rocketman, I have to wonder just how magical things will get. Even with rumors of how John’s love life would be toned down for a PG-13 rating turns out to be merely scuttlebutt, that doesn't say that all other issues on the table will be addressed equally.
Still, everything seems to be in order when compared to what Egerton told USA Today in their coverage on the film’s must-see status during this summer’s movie season. So we're still glad to hear that Rocketman is doing the best it can to avoid being a typical biopic.
Rocketman burns out its fuse in beautiful, full colored life on May 31st.