I have not seen too many Van Sant films, but this is probably the best effort from him that I have seen. Michael Haneke's "Der siebente Kontinent" is more depressive still a similiar film - but this is slightly better for me, especially if I keep the killing part of that film in mind. I absolutely dig the constant movement, long tracking shots done with steadycam. It's also really nice with several scenes done many times with different perspectives - naturaly many shots done, being as identical as the last one as possible.
Nice and short, good dialogue - and a fantastic way of storytelling. Horrible action, you know it will happen, but you don't know how or who that will get killed. A great final scene too. Not easy to catch the title, but I've read that the two killers are "Elephants in a room". That makes sense, I guess.
8 out of 10 high schools cafeterias.
One might wonder why a movie like "Elephant" exists. If a film is unwilling to do anything besides essentially recreate a tragedy, with no scrutinizational strings attached to its incendiary self, why be released at all? Evidently, Van Sant wants us to be active viewers. He wants us to be the ones to decide what the prime motivation of its antagonists is, what the repercussions for those involved looked like following the incident. By sidestepping resolution, we have to fill in the majority of the blanks ourselves. It's a conversation piece of a film, seemingly simplistic until a thirsting to dissect it makes it something furtively substantial.
"Elephant" isn't a movie made for everyone - some will find its near clinical approach reprehensible, and others, if not offended by its intentional dryness, will find it fatiguing, at least until its disconcerting conclusion. Van Sant's extensive use of long-winded tracking shots (mostly utilized as a way to mundanely follow characters as they move from point A to point B, thus bringing out the paranoia that rests impatiently in our being as we wait) are a lot to take in, and the sparse dialogue forces us to attempt to delve into the minds of characters that are already too thinly drawn to truly understand anyway.
But Van Sant's disturbingly naturalistic approach is what makes "Elephant" so consuming. Its characters, all kids you'd find in any high school in America - the introverts, the relentlessly bullied, the artistic, the eating disorder afflicted - are instantaneously recognizable. But here, even the confident basketball star who walks through the halls during times of trouble is not impervious to the dangers of young monsters who are hazards to themselves and others.
And in an age where gun violence is more pressing of a cultural issue than ever, "Elephant" should serve as a graphic reminder as to why the gratuitous usage of arms is such an ugly point of conflict in American society. (Notice how easily the film's villains obtain their weapons - it's merely a matter of ordering from the right website.) Movie violence, with its peppering of heroism and machismo, is not to be found here. "Elephant's" violence is immediate, ruthless, inane. If the movie is hard to access and sometimes too dramatically barren to serve as anything else besides a disquieting take on the Day in a Life motif of cinema, it's at least a conclusive conversation starter. Only a filmmaker of Van Sant's exploratory resolve could have made a film of its caliber and make it all come across as instigative instead of irresponsibly provocative.
Pero, no se las recomiendo a todo el mundo.
It came out after the Columbine tragedy and I think it is disgusting that this film tries to somehow capitalize and evoke empathy from a serious real-life tragedy.
There is little dialogue in this film. As such, it is very realistic and believable. Simply, the visual story of a couple of outcasts who organize a mass slaughter at their high school. They are spiritually devoid human beings and are presented as everyday kids. They are able to arm themselves enough to wipe out much of the student population.
The title means nothing. This film means nothing. I hope it is not viewed by children who learn from it to carry out a copycat catastrophe. Some losers may look at this film and find it intriguing to emulate. If this is ever acted upon, the filmmaker Gus Van Sant should be jailed for life. Shame on him for this production. This piece of trash should never have been released in wide distribution.
Unmistakably a closer look at the horrific Columbine High School shooting on April 20th 1999 four years before the film.
The film has such an authentic feel to it which makes the horror all the more real. A chilling film that is incredibly crafted...a true social comment.