Reinventing Elvis: The ’68 Comeback (2023) Ending Explained – The King like you’ve never seen him before

Reinventing Elvis Plot Summary

Reinventing Elvis: The ’68 Comeback is a documentary that explores the making of Elvis’ television special, marking the beginning of a new chapter in his career. Through interviews with audience members, contemporary country singers, and even the show’s producer, we learn about the backstage politics involved in getting Elvis out on stage to tape the special and the impact it had on American culture at the time.

Why was the ’68 Special so important?

Elvis’ life was a roller coaster throughout the 1960’s. It went in a different direction than the Elvis of the 1950’s. He had joined the army, then went on to make a slew of movies that some say progressively got worse and worse. His absence from music had opened up some lanes for some of the greatest musical acts to hit the airwaves. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Beach Boys were all bands that took on the mantle while Elvis was off doing other things.

There was also a lot of divisiveness in America too. The beginning of the decade had the J.F.K. assassination, the Vietnam war, Bobby Kennedy shot, and the country at an all-time high with racial tension, thanks to the Martin Luther King assassination.

The Elvis concert special on NBC in late 1968 wasn’t something that people were necessarily asking for, but it ended up being a uniting moment in America for a brief moment. 

Who was Colonel Tom Parker?

Colonel Tom Parker is labeled in the documentary as the villain in all of this. He was Elvis Presley’s vindictive manager. A man whom some blame for Elvis’ lack of evolving as an artist and his addictions. The Colonel was cutthroat about getting money for his client, which can be fair depending on the context of the business deal. But Tom Parker had a presence that was remembered by all as off-putting and evil.

There is a quick mention of his past in the doc that mentions his involvement with the murder of a woman in his home country of Holland. 

Tom Parker would clash with producers behind the scenes at the taping of the show, and mainly with the head producer, Steve Binder. He wanted a Christmas special rather than just an average concert for Elvis.

The show would then quickly move into more of a revival for Elvis, and The King would form a bond with Steve Binder that had a positive impact on his career. 

What Happens at the end of the documentary?

The documentary and the ’68 Special end in almost the exact same way. Elvis had done different segments throughout the show with various kinds of staging. One of which was a jam session with his band on a small stage very close to the audience; the others had a bigger production value with background dancers and lighting effects. But at the end of the show, and in this case the documentary, we see Elvis’ performance of the song ‘If I Can Dream’. 

It was a song that felt timely and echoed perhaps an unexpected message to the audience that was there and at home. The song has a hopeful message for the world, and is sung for a country that needed to heal. Although Elvis’ manager disagreed with the choice of having an artistic moment for the king, it ended up being an impactful stamp on the televised special and the documentary.


Read More: Reinventing Elvis Review

Feel Free To Check Out More Of Our TV Show Reviews Here!

Leave a comment