September 5, 2014
Very good screenplay and performances done by its young cast.Very unique depiction of a school shooting.The movie unfortunately borrows alot of elements regarding Columbine and if it was Gus Van Sants intentions depicts the two killers very poorly.still worth a see regardless of its bad depiction of Columbine.
July 19, 2014
Alright, I get it. The movie sets things up to seem like they matter, but in the end they don't. This is because real violence works similarly: there is no justice, or cool closing lines. There's just anger and blood. However, this clever concept cannot deliver much in the form of a feature film. Elephant would work better as a shorter, 20-30 minute story, with the same division of shooting/buildup.
March 31, 2013
A glorified re-enactment which offers little more than a Wikipedia entry on the subject.
February 16, 2010
(First and only viewing - 10/26/2010)
June 27, 2014
With an incredibly dramatic sequence of semi-subjective tracking shots, Elephant takes us to a place usually obscured by media coverage and short, distant reflection. Van Sant is not afraid to explore the realism of random violence and courageously questions motive and singularity in this multi-dimensional portrayal of a high-school shooting.
June 24, 2014
Perhaps the only movie in history to be considered a great watch mainly because it is, in fact, very hard to watch.
June 4, 2014
Only word I can find to describe this film is: Haunting.
August 22, 2011
"Excuse me sir, don't go in there!"
Synopsis: An unnerving tale about high school violence that unfolds on an ordinary school day, inside a typical American high school filled with the usual goings-on -- schoolwork, football, gossip and peer pressure.
If your looking for a unique experience then you will not be disappointed, you'd be hard pressed to find another film similar to Elephant outside the director's catalogue of work. It's slow, almost plotless with little dialogue, and improvised; the best way to describe the film's style would be minimalistic. The camera tails a number of wildly different students as they proceed through their daily high school lives, there are a handful of interesting expressionistic images, but for the most part, it's as if you grabbed a camera and decided to follow your classmates around school, and then edited your footage in non-linear fashion.
It's way more fascinating than it has the right to be, as it's totally mundane, but that's the point. I suppose many will be turned off by it's radically uncompromising filmmaking esthetics, and thats okay, it is perhaps a bit too loud in the way it tells it's story; but it's not meant as an entertainment endeavor, simply a study of the lives of young people, and asks exactly why this incident happened, without providing any answers.
Though perhaps too different and unconventional for many, Elephant is a simple (and good) idea filmed in a bold cinematic style that remains on the mind long after the finale is over..... can you spot the ELEPHANT in the room?
June 6, 2014
Gun related massacres are inevitable in a nation where any idiot can mail order as many assault rifles as s/he can afford and where the fast majority of the population seriously believes that the universe is just a few thousand years old and that humanity and everything else was created by a bearded man in the sky.
July 7, 2007
I saw it a decade ago, but this movie still gets to me. Through the use of long unbroken shots & non professional actors we see a painfully normal school day that eventually ends in violence. It's those simple but effective choices that make Elephant such an eerie & dreamlike film
|Cameron W. Johnson||
May 29, 2014
Get ready, parents, because this is the first high-profile film about a high school shooting, but don't get too concerned about copy-cats, because these days, it's become a little more popular for kids to kill themselves, especially if they're gay. What ever ends up happening, with all due respect, the Elephant Man didn't feel like shoot up a school, so I'm thinking that these gay kids might need to get over it. Man, if anyone can take the story of the Columbine massacre and make it about gay people problems, while moving the setting to Portland, Oregon, no less, it's Gus Van Sant, although that's not to say that this film is as grounded as his usual endeavors. I mean, it's the follow-up to "Gerry", and sure enough, it's so avant-garde that it's not actually about an elephant, like, at all, outside of weird, random imagery, that is (I guess it's not too hard to ignore the elephant in the room in this case). Perhaps it stands to be more avant-garde, because if we can take relief in nothing else, it's the fact that the influence on Van Sant's "Death Trilogy" from Béla Tarr cut off before we came to experimenting with runtimes, because this film is enough of a challenge at 81 minutes, let alone 7 hours or something. Shoot, maybe this film can't get too much more avant-garde after all, because it did end up winning the Palme d'Or, and I don't think I'd like to see a film get much more abstract than that. Shoot, maybe my mood swings are about as bad as those made by the teens in this film, because I'm back to saying that this film stands to be more tediously abstract, as it would have been if it wasn't for certain strengths.
Underusing a minimal classical soundtrack, albeit not as much as "Gerry", this film's unoriginal score, when incorporated, captures the awkward intensity which defines this psychological drama's tone with a certain personal beauty, just as Harris Savides' cinematography proves to be tonally and aesthetically sharp, with slightly more distinguished coloration than the visual style of "Gerry" to make up for less lovely scenery, which is still intriguingly explored with an immersive extensiveness to tight framing and nifty tracking shots. Musical and visual artistry are limited, but sharper than they were in a predecessor that, if nothing else, had aesthetic value going for it, thus, this film proves to at least be stylistically impressive, sometimes in a manner that compliments substance. If style does compliment substance, then it's largely thanks to Gus Van Sant's directorial orchestration, whose minimalism drives the film from decency, all but secured by admittedly compelling highlights in Van Sant's inspiration as a thoughtful storyteller and director of talented performers. Being naturalist, this film provides minimal acting material for a cast of talented unknowns, yet when these talents find an opportunity to flaunt their chops, they drive the opus with a dramatic bite which ranges from chillingly subtle to intense, drawing you into the heart of the characters with whom this drama is very intimate. No matter how much the execution tries to bring style over substance and underplay the development of its characters as more than just thematic compliments, this story concept is that of a character study, and a worthy one, which has the potential to bite deeply as a meditation upon the mental and emotional instability of youths who take part in or fall victim to a terrible, terrible tragedy. This potential is thoroughly betrayed by a questionable ambition to flesh out artistry beyond drama, but it's nevertheless palpable enough, largely through highlights in style and storytelling, for the final product to at least border on decent. It's certain better than "Gerry", I can give it that, but no much more than that, because no matter how clear the strengths are, the issues are clearer, and not even unfamiliar.
The film isn't even as conventional as "Gerry", though that might simply be because more filmmakers are comfortable with telling the tale of some bums who get stranded from society than they are with telling the tale of society or whatever driving youths to kill a bunch of people, because when it comes to the interpretation of this unique and worthy subject matter, it's more of the same overstylization that is bland enough without the familiarity, as surely as it distances you from the characters enough without backing an underdeveloped script. To be so intimate with its characters, this film offers hardly anything in the way of background development for the leads, and it's not as though it says that much with all of its meditations when it comes to gradual exposition, because even in the script substance is underplayed, typically for the sake of style. I emphasize that style is played over substance "typically", because there are times in which visual style joins storytelling focus in being abandoned for sheer nothingness, and when substance does come into play, it's in a convolutedly nonlinear and intentionally uneven form that, just like the nothingness, is more frustrating than distinguished. With all that said, the film is more grounded than "Gerry", and that both helps in making a less tedious film, and works against the film, as it actually gives you a greater feel for just how disconcerting the offbeat storytelling aspects are by comparison, alone, even though all storytelling styles at least keep consistent in dragging. Running only a mere 81 minutes, the film is so short, so one would figure that it wouldn't take too much time to drags its feet, but considering that substance is so thin, to the point of borderline plotlessness, the final product is predominantly dragging, made all the more tedious by the thoughtfulness to Gus Van Sant's direction that doesn't have any dramatic material to subtly draw upon, resulting in serious limp spells that end up making up the final product. Unfocused and draggy, with a quiet intensity that is more dry than biting, this film, plain and simple, is challengingly dull, perhaps even tedious, but, again, not quite "Gerry", largely due to Van Sant's all but losing a sense of artistic unassurance, while unfortunately still retaining a sense of pretense. There's a hint of charm to Van Sant's direction, and it's not like Van Sant doesn't deliver on his ambitions at times, but when it's all said and done, the filmmaker demands your investment, and it's just so hard to give, as the film is so questionably, if not messily crafted that no matter how effective it occasionally is, the final product falls flat as yet another misguided artistic misfire.
In the end, lovely unoriginal scoring and cinematography carry a stylistic sharpness, while highlights in direction and acting provide glimpses of a more worthy interpretation of worthy subject matter, ultimately overshadowed by familiarity to style, underdevelopment to characters, and bloating and unevenness to a questionable storytelling style which abandons dramatic focus for the sake of a pretentious and tediously dull, offbeat sparsity that drives Gus Van Sant's "Elephant" flat as a hopelessly misguided and ultimately mediocre abstractionist interpretation of certain disturbances within and disturbing actions of youths.
2.25/5 - Mediocre
May 15, 2014
A film that can induce you to sleep for the first few scenes but will shock you upon waking up.
May 5, 2014
Very well-made. Unlike anything I've ever seen.
May 2, 2014
Brutal, y planos secuencias increíbles.
April 21, 2014
Highly disturbing content, Elephant is literally a fly-on-the-wall account of a normal day in high school told through multiple vantage points awaiting the looming massacre. Based off the Columbine school shootings, the film is unapologetically direct in it's execution and it doesn't leave you with much to think about, apart from the act being horrible. The cast is all unknowns (at least when it was made) and the film never sticks with one long enough to really attach to them, which works for the bleak vibe that any of these characters could be shot at any time. Really the film only leaves it's mark during the very realistic massacre segments, and the rest is rather unengaging and slow. It's not a great film and the abrupt ending left me very cold, but it's style works well for the narrative and the harsh realism sticks with you.
March 21, 2014
Elephant is a somber, bleak movie based off the columbine massacre telling it's story in long shots of the students and 2 shooters during their day. The violence pot rayed is the right unemotional but not glorifying touch. Well shot and acted by non-professional actors mostly, this is one of Gus Van Sant's best and shows he works best with young actors and stories of youth.
August 22, 2012
Raw and unsettling. Twisted and voyeuristic. Brilliant and nightmarish. A 5/5 masterpiece...........and the only film I will never watch again.
November 13, 2011
- Watched for a 3rd time. I find it to be a very contemplative film and really puts you into the environment. Give it a try!
- Just watched this for the 2nd time...to me it's a truly outstanding film. I think Van Sant handles almost every element of the film perfectly from how the story is told, to the music, performances and outstanding camera work. The film follows a group of kids as they go through their everyday actions at a high school until 2 students come in with guns picking them off like in a video game. A must see.
February 1, 2014
The first half of the movie was spent creating a graceful atmosphere that the second half tore to shreds. I was able to immerse myself in the film even though the people around me were complaining that "1/3 of the film is walking." I can't blame them though, a third of the film is walking. The ameturic acting provided horribly shallow character depth, which shrivels any emotional attachment the audience may have otherwise had. I dunno, I was able to look past it.
January 21, 2014
Elephant  Not many films can be artsy by showing people's backs for about an hour, not even this one. 6/10