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Journey into Elton John’s memories

Director Fletcher weaves together five decades of the singer's experiences

LAS VEGAS Elton John's memories of his nearly five-decade career might not be perfectly clear, but they are his nonetheless.

And now, having been weaved together by Dexter Fletcher, the world is going to see them.

After swooping in at the last minute to save last year's Bohemian Rhapsody, which won four Oscars and two Golden Globes, the 53-year-old English director has moved on to another legend's story, that of Elton John in Rocketman, which opens here on June 13.

Fletcher arrived on set for the Queen and Freddie Mercury biopic in late 2017, after original director Bryan Singer was fired two weeks before wrapping up filming.

"It was coincidence, really," he said last month at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, where he presented the film. "I worked on Bohemian Rhapsody a few years before - that version didn't happen."

Fletcher was originally brought on as director in 2013, but was let go over creative differences a year later.

"If things had gone the way they should have gone, we wouldn't be talking about it... I did what I had to do but really my focus is always Rocketman," he said.

Both Queen and John are familiar subjects for Fletcher, who as an actor is known for his work with director Guy Ritchie on 1998's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

"This music is the best of the 70s and 80s," he said, adding his personal tastes swing in John's favour.

"When you get people in the theatre and you have that great song that everyone knows and loves that there's a great unifying experience."

In Rocketman, those great songs are reinterpreted by English actor Taron Egerton, 29, who first appears on screen as the young Reginald Kenneth Dwight, John's birth name.

He's joined by Jamie Bell as long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as controversial lover and manager John Reid and Bryce Dallas Howard as John's mother, Sheila Dwight.

We have the boy Reggie's first tinklings on the piano, his teenage refusal to play music by "dead people", his 1970 debut at the Los Angeles Troubadour club and his concerts at a filled-to-the-rafters Dodger Stadium five years later.

The trailer alone features such classics as Your Song, Bennie And The Jets and Tiny Dancer - and the movie itself reels through many more of the singer's hits.

Fletcher insists Rocketman is not "an official biography", but instead an expression of John's own memories.

The five-time Grammy winner is listed as one of the film's executive producers.

His husband, filmmaker David Furnish, was also a producer.

"We are inside Elton's memories of his life.

"And memories are fallible... things get mixed up and confused," Fletcher said.

"We're not hemmed in, we're not restricted by facts. We have the freedom of imagination, which is much more important for a movie. It has been a freeing thing about Elton being our narrator."

He added: "Elton talked about his thoughts, his ideas, but he was also very generous.

"He knew that we had to make it our own. He gave us his blessing and the strength and the beauty to be honest. It's real. It celebrates Elton and his life." - AFP

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