We went to the iconic Abbey Road studios for a special preview of Elton John biopic Rocketman
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We are now officially excited for this movie.
Arriving a few minutes too early, we watch the famous zebra crossing on the main road as it is flooded by tourists, each one trying to get their photos taken, while traffic coming from either directions honk their horns in frustration. Living around here must be a nightmare.
We've been invited over to the legendary Abbey Road studios to get an look at some early footage from the upcoming "fantasy musical Elton John biopic" Rocketman, but really we could've spent several hours just watching tourists narrowly avoided traffic for the sake of recreating an album cover.
Once inside the studios themselves, you see the security, you see the countless "No photography" signs, you see a lot of movie posters for huge blockbusters that had their scores recorded here.
Down two flights of stairs, and we enter a huge auditorium, one that looks far too big to be in this building. The big screen at the top features the movie's poster, and the room is filled with buzzing excitement.
We all take our seats, and out comes David Furnish to introduce the footage. He tells us he can't hang around long, but introduces lead actor Taron Egerton, director Dexter Fletcher, and producer Giles (son of George) Martin, who quickly chat about some of the footage being unfinished, but overall we're being given a taste of what to expect.
This leads directly into about 20 minutes of scenes that seem to be from different points in the movie's timeline, but the primary takeaway we got from it is that this is not Bohemian Rhapsody.
There are a lot of parallels to be drawn: biopic, musician, queer icon, right down to the fact that Dexter Fletcher actually finished Bohemian Rhapsody when Bryan Singer stepped down away from the director's chair half way through production.
The footage shows Egerton seamlessly slip into the role of Elton John, while Richard Madden, Jamie Bell, and Bryce Dallas Howard fill out the supporting roles. We're told not to expect the usual "jukebox musical", instead we get something akin to Moulin Rouge, with the songs used to convey the emotion of the moments they're being sung, while a scene in which Elton causes an entire room to literally float away gives the indication that this will truly be leaning into the "fantasy" in "fantasy musical biopic".
What we're shown is impressive, and a clever, original direction to take a story that audiences feel they may have seen before: this is different characters on the same road.
Which isn't to say that the movie will be all light and airy, as Egerton tells the audience as he and Fletcher and Martin retake the stage:
"It’s a story about someone who was not well becoming well. What I felt was very special about this project is largely down to Elton’s very specific personality type, and especially him having gone through recovery, which I think leads to a certain quality of openness and candidness.
"It’s right at the heart of what makes Rocketman quite special because Elton gave me the licence to go and make him look quite ugly at times, that was always very important to me."
One of the scenes shown features Elton composing 'Your Song', sitting at home at his piano, and apparently singing it to his long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin (played by Jamie Bell here), and it shows the deeper, more emotional aspect to the story, which Fletcher tells us about:
"Elton is our storyteller in the film, and it is his memory of those times, and sometimes our memory plays tricks on us or we remember things in a particularly colourful or different way, and I think that’s the idea we are playing with."
"We reveal our hearts through a song. Music is one of those great mediums that cuts down a lot of barriers. If a song gets you, it grabs your heart and it moves you. [Music allows people] to open their heart and expose who they are and show their vulnerability."
The footage ended with a huge round of applause from those in attendance, everyone obviously still hungry for more of the story, especially once they get a taste of just how well Egerton has performed Elton's hits.
Leaving Abbey Road, people are actively humming and singing their favourite Elton songs. We imagine the same thing will be happening for folk when they leave the movie in a few weeks time, too.
Rocketman opens in Irish cinemas on Friday 24 May, and you'll be able to buy your tickets very soon right here.
Clip via Paramount Pictures
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