Elvis’s whole aesthetic was built on a mix of references, artifice, and Americana. In his 1989 film Mystery Train director Jim Jarmusch filters the kitsch of Elvis and dusty backdrop of Memphis through the perspective of both tourists and locals as they stay at the Arcade Hotel. The film doesn’t gloss over its locale—dilapidated rooms exist alongside depictions of the iconic Sun Records; Jarmusch allegedly wrote the bulk of the story before visiting the city and filled in the details later. It’s this combination mythic idolizing and gritty reality that make the film what it is.
text and screencaps by Anna Fitzpatrick