Reality vs. fiction in Elton John's biopic.



Elton John, Taron Egerton as Elton John.

Taron Egerton (right) plays Elton John in the new biopic.

Photographic illustration by blackboard. Photos of CBS Television and Paramount Pictures.

You wait years for a biopic about a glam rock star who defeats the world and who starts out as a shy English boy before living a life of unhappy excesses, then straightens up and reconciles himself with his true friends, and then two appear to the time. But despite these superficial similarities (and even the same director, Dexter Fletcher, who completed the biography of Freddie Mercury for Bryan Singer), Rocketman, the story of the transformation of Reginald Dwight into superstar Elton John and the eventual reconciliation of these two identities, is quite different from Bohemian Rhapsody.

For one thing, Bohemian Rhapsody it is largely a recreation of live concerts or album presentations, with songs very much hooked to the original versions, while Rocketman It is much more than an old-school musical film, with characters singing songs to express their emotions and dancers who suddenly appear in everyday places, such as fairs or the Santa Monica waterfront. Rocketman Nor is he afraid to radically reimagine the songs and arrangements (for example, the young Reg, his mother, his father and his grandmother sing the 2001 single "I Want Love", for example). Finally, unlike the movie from Queen, the theme of the biographical film is very much alive and can serve as executive producer of the film. This means that Rocketman presents a disinfected version of the truth, or is Elton well with an unadorned portrait? We break it down.

The remarkable musical ear of Little Reg

Bryce Dallas Howard talking on the phone.

Bryce Dallas Howard as Sheila Eileen Dwight, the mother of Elton John.

Paramount Pictures

In the film, the first hint of little Reg Dwight's talent comes when, as a child, he chooses a melody on the family's piano after listening to it on the radio, impressing his kind grandmother and his glamorous though self-absorbed mother, who decide Piano lessons are a good investment. At the age of 11, he won a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music of Great Britain. He does not prepare a piece for his audition, but is admitted after replicating the piece he hears the teacher practicing.

John is known for his remarkable ear. According to a story repeated both on John's website and in many biographies, the young Reg surprised his family by sitting and playing The waltz of the skater by the ear. Biographer Philip Norman wrote that "Even as a child, Reggie Dwight could listen to a piece of music only once, then sit at the piano and play it one note at a time." He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, which he attended on Saturdays for four years, and his ability in the academy to play long and intricate pieces after a single listening is supported by his teacher: "I remember that once I made a prelude to Handel, four pages long, "Helen Piena. Remember in the biography of Norman. "As soon as I finished, he played it again like a gramophone."

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Your relationship with your father

Elton's father, Stanley Dwight, is portrayed as a veteran member of the Royal Air Force, cold and distant, dismissive of the musical talent and sensitive nature of his son, a rejection that underlies much of the later problems of the star with self-esteem Salt is rubbed on the wound when Superstar Elton later visits her estranged father only to discover that Stanley has a clearly affectionate relationship with his two sons for a second marriage, Elton's half brothers.

This certainly coincides with John's own version of his childhood. In a 2011 interview with the Sunday Times, John described his father as a "tough, hard, emotionless man" who was "disdainful, disappointed and ultimately absent." I just wanted him to recognize what he had done. But he never did. "John felt that Stanley's relationship with his new family exacerbated his feelings of rejection, and he said in the same interview:" It was not that I did not know how to relate to children. He left us, remarried and had another family, and by all accounts he was a great father to them. They were not children, it was me. "

However, John's half brother, Geoff Dwight, questioned this characterization of Stanley and told the Daily Mail: "When I was growing up, Elton was always there and we had a lot of fun on family vacations and things like that." He also stated that John "always sent birthday and Christmas cards to our father, he never forgot," and that Stanley slept with a photo of Elton by his bed until his death. Similarly, John's stepmother, Edna, told Norman: "Stanley has become a dominant monster, but it's just not true, he was a lovely man, a good father and a loving husband." In addition, she said that, far from discouraging her son's musical talent, Stanley bought her a piano in 1963 (she presented the receipt).

The origin of the name Elton John

Dick Jams, Stephen Graham as Dick James.

Dick James in real life and in the movie, played by Stephen Graham.

Photographic illustration by blackboard. Photos of John Rodgers / Redferns and Paramount Pictures.

Realizing that his heart is in rock and roll, Reg (Kingsman the star Taron Egerton) begins to play with a small band in pubs on Saturday nights. Soon, the band is retreating on the tours of the United States of America, leading one of his bandmates to point out that Reg needs a name that is a little more rock and roll. Reg responds by borrowing the name of the bandmate (Elton), but is baffled by what to choose as last name until, asked by the music editor Dick James by name, sees a picture of John Lennon on the wall and strikes of inspiration.

As early as 1963, John, who was fascinated by Elvis, was in a band that played with Ray Charles and Jim Reeves covers in a hotel, rather than a pub, near his native Pinner outside of London. Some members of this band reformed as bluesology in 1964 and, a year later, supported the visit of American soul artists such as Isley Brothers, Patti LaBelle and Bluebelles. Elton adopted his first name from a fellow of the band of bluesology, the saxophonist Elton Dean (later with the rock band Soft Machine). But John did not come from Lennon, but from Elton's longtime mentor, Long John Baldry, whose diverse blues bands had nurtured some of the best talent in British rock (including Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Jack Bruce, Jimmy Page and Rod Stewart ) and who hired Bluesology as his backup band in 1966. John admired Baldry as one of the few people on the music scene who was openly gay and highly regarded.

John's relationship with Bernie Taupin

Bernie Taupin, Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin.

Bernie Taupin in real life and in the movie, played by Jamie Bell.

Photographic illustration by blackboard. Photos of Uni / Universal City Records and Paramount Pictures.

In the film, Elton is in the office of music editor and label chief Dick James (Stephen Graham) with the hope of being signed. James is impressed by the melody that Elton composes in the act, but when he asks for the words, Elton confesses that he does not write them, so James gives him sheets of paper covered with handwritten letters and tells him to put them in music . Elton meets a lyricist, Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), in a cafe, and the two quickly become friends, and Elton comes to consider Bernie the brother he never had. The kindness of their relationship can be preserved by their half-finished work method: Bernie delivers or sends the letters, and then Elton goes on his own to create a melody in a couple of hours.

This, John told Rolling Stone in 2011, is pretty much what happened, remembering: "I went to Liberty Records when I was still in bluesology and I said: & # 39; Maybe I can sing, I can write, but I can" No you write letters, "and a guy gives me a big brown envelope that has not opened and says," Take this, they're from a guy in Lancashire ". In addition, John added, he and Taupin "I never wrote a song in the same room.

The interview also supports the film's claim that collaborators rarely discussed, and John stated: "We have never had a discussion about music, and I think we have not had a personal discussion," although the interviewer observes the line notes for Fantastic captain and brown dirty cowboy presents "a diary entry of January 12, 1969 that says:" I made a fight with Bernie ". John also admits that he will occasionally edit Taupin's lyrics, for example, by cutting a full line of "Daniel", but Taupin "I never questioned him, I never complained about it".

Ironically, this method of work undermines RocketmanThe central idea is that the songs express John's state of mind at crucial moments in his life. With Taupin writing the lyrics in isolation, they could hardly be based on John's experience.

The success of a night in L.A.

Kiki Dee, Rachel Muldoon as Kiki Dee.

Kiki Dee in real life and in the film, played by Rachel Muldoon, performing "Do not Go Breaking My Heart" with Egerton as Elton John.

Photographic illustration by blackboard. Photos of MCA Records and Paramount Pictures.

With the strength of the songs that the duo creates, James signs a three-album contract and books them for a six-night concert on Troubadour's famous musical launch platform, L.A. Overcome by the nerves in learning idols like the Beach Boys and Leon Russell are in the audience, Elton at first refuses to leave the dressing room. But he finally does, allowing the film to rehearse the oldest tropes in the entertainment world, "You're dating a young man, but you're coming back with a star!"

This is exactly what happened. John arrived as a non-entity, but the audience went crazy on the night of the opening (Rolling Stone included the shows in a list of the 50 best concerts of the rock era), and a criticism of the Los Angeles Times made John and Taupin will speak The town, catapulting them to the big leagues. Later, Taupin recalled: "Trovador's shows were the blue-touch role for our career."

Elton John's relationships with women

John Reid, Richard Madden as John Reid.

John Reid in real life and in the movie, played by Richard Madden.

Photographic illustration by blackboard. Pictures of Ross Anthony Willis / Fairfax Media through Getty Images and Paramount Pictures.

In the film, Elton and Bernie, who have not yet been discovered, move into an apartment, where Elton begins a relationship with his glamorous homemade hippie, Arabella. Needless to say, it does not end well. Then, during his years of substance abuse, he meets Renate, a recording engineer who is deeply sympathetic. Waiting for a good woman to bring order to her chaotic life, Elton marries her. Once again, it does not last. In the middle, John discovers the true pbadion with the handsome John Reid (played by Richard Madden, ridiculously hot, aka Robb Stark). game of Thrones), with whom he develops a kind of relationship between Ike and Tina, although the abuse is mostly emotional.

In fact, John engaged with a woman named Linda Woodrow, not a homeless and hippie landlady, but a down-to-earth secretary, in 1969, after dating for two years. But then, less than a month before the wedding, John suspended the whole thing.

Legend has it that facing the prospect of domestic happiness in the suburbs, John sank into a suicidal depression and it was Baldry who convinced him to finish it, saying, "Oh, dear, for God's sake, you're going to Marry, and you love Bernie more than you love this girl, this is ridiculous, "so he beat Baldry a tribute like" Someone "in Taupin's song and John on the break," Someone saved my life tonight ". (Meanwhile, as in the movie, John and Taupin's relationship has always been strictly Platonic.)

Still publicly maintaining that he was bibadual, John met Renate Blauel, a sound engineer, when she worked on her Too low for zero album in 1982. They married in 1984 (Reid was a godfather) and, after spending much of their marriage in different continents, they divorced in 1988. John attributed his leap to the desire to start a family and because, as the Los Angeles Times said in 1992, "Even though I knew I was gay, I thought that this woman was attractive and that being married would cure me of everything that was wrong in my life."

Suicide attempt

In the film, with his feelings of inherent immobility only exacerbated by his enormous wealth and his stardom, Elton sinks more and more into a tide of beverages, drugs and unsatisfying hedonism. When his mother and grandmother fly for a big pool party at his mansion in Great Britain, he spends most of it alone in his wasted room. Finally it emerges only to throw itself off the trampoline in search of oblivion.

Despite worldwide success (seven albums followed by US No. 1 and being by far the largest album act of the 1970s), John descended into a well-publicized spiral of substance abuse and isolation before finding the salvation in rehabilitation and therapy. "Walking around the house, not bathing for three or four days, staying awake watching badgraphy all the time, drinking a bottle of whiskey a day. And I was also bulimic, so I did not eat for three days, then I ate six bacon sandwiches and a pint of ice cream and I puked it up. And then, bathe and start the whole procedure again, "he told the Daily Telegraph in 2010.

And he made a theatrical suicide attempt in front of his mother and grandmother, jumping into his pool shouting: "I'm going to die!" After swallowing 60 Valiums. "It was stress," he recalled in the same interview. "I had been working non-stop for five years, but it was typical of me, there was no way to kill me doing that, and of course, my grandmother came out with the perfect phrase:" I guess we all have to go home now. "


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