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Overall Rating
3.78

Awesome43.37%
Worth A Look: 28.92%
Just Average: 4.82%
Pretty Crappy: 8.43%
Sucks: 14.46%

7 reviews, 41 user ratings


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Elephant
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by John Rice

"Unsettling."
4 stars

My greatest fear is that, as with films such as "Irreversible", there are people who will find "Elephant" enjoyable. Not only is it not enjoyable, I'm inclined to believe anyone who thinks it is needs to seek help as soon as possible. It is an interesting study, but not one I plan on revisiting any time soon.

Elephant begins, introducing a series of high school students. John has to take over the driving for his drunk father, who is taking him to school. Elias asks to photograph a Goth couple as he walks across a park. Nathan and Carrie walk across the school football field to the sounds of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. The introductions continue as the unavoidable questions arise. Who are the killers and who is going to die?

The first question is answered soon enough and the second is kind of beside the point, particularly when the film is based on true incidents. Elephant is Gus Van Sant's (To Die For) take on the 1999 events at Columbine High School. The film was made for broadcast on HBO, but also was presented at several film festivals and had a short, limited theatrical run. It is made in the Verité style, simply following several students as they pass the few hours before the murders, and basically offers no attempt at answers. It does take a few dramatic liberties and alters some details a bit.

What Van Sant has created is a completely intriguing, profoundly unsettling film. It is not gratuitous. In fact, the final minutes are not made to look realistic, but more like a student film. The effects as students are systematically murdered are cheap and curiously undramatic. There are no earth shattering explosions as the assault weapons are fired, only a much more realistic pop, as if from a small firecracker. This creates a surprisingly disturbing result, which I can only guess was Van Sant's intention. (This review originally appeared on Slacker-Reviews.com)

This is a fine film, but one I hesitate to recommend without great caution.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8236&reviewer=373
originally posted: 08/05/04 20:57:15
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell disturbing & well made 4 stars
5/30/11 PAUL SHORTT EFFECTIVE AND POWERFUL 3 stars
10/11/10 Simon Unforgivable flaws in characters and gratuitousness, yet directed so artfully and chilling 3 stars
7/30/06 Davina Interesting, though not for everyone. 4 stars
5/28/06 jean Claude this is a fucking film 1 stars
4/13/06 Glenda Each scene is thought-provoking and crucial. Routine day gone bad. Almost like a nightmare. 5 stars
4/10/06 Jonathan What interesting cinematography, ive never seen anything like it before. 4 stars
12/21/05 Titus Two gay teenage Nazi's admirers take their happy revenge on a typical high-school. classic. 4 stars
11/14/05 Hyde Japan A moving tribute to those who suffer the random violence afforded by a gun-obsessed society 5 stars
10/18/05 Agent Sands Few movies dare to portray a school shooting like action sequences, if at all. 4 stars
10/13/05 Dekeeshia I had to force myself to stay interested, but the movie did leave me with profund curiosity 4 stars
10/13/05 christopher love the walking scenes! gives you time to think about whats to come on this 'normal' day 4 stars
9/17/05 Brian Horrible acting. Majority of the movie is just watching the characters WALKING. 1 stars
5/05/05 ELI Jesus... this is a happy-go-lucky movie. 4 stars
1/31/05 Wendy S. Excellent and thought provoking. 4 stars
1/05/05 Katie really f*cking stupid - trying to hard to make a point and missed 2 stars
12/29/04 Liora eric frost was sexy. i loved the gay shower scene. 5 stars
12/06/04 Kurt Cobain Chilling.... 5 stars
11/15/04 Zel just... not that good.... didnt see the point 3 stars
8/29/04 tank wish the motives would have been better established good other wise 4 stars
7/30/04 DM Haunting, and has something to say (unlike "Gerry") 5 stars
7/09/04 MorallySound Haunting. 5 stars
6/21/04 Dick Logan Cannot believe anybody liked this; Exploited Columbine in an attempt for GVS to daring. 1 stars
6/14/04 A F Very well shot. This style only works if it is done right. 5 stars
6/13/04 MyGreenBed Having the two be gay (also the vomit scene) only muddles an otherwise very worthy film. 4 stars
6/01/04 tatum Van Sant scores another one, creepy 5 stars
5/16/04 j Good movies like this are rare anymore 5 stars
5/07/04 gray why oh why did they have the anti-hero's be gay? 5 stars
5/05/04 TGD Amazing 5 stars
4/27/04 Roman Ostrovsky I was in Elephant I played the Red Head Kid. Gus is a great director to work with. He is so 3 stars
3/28/04 Paul a magnificent movie 5 stars
3/28/04 Jean experiMENTAL nightmare, i liked it, a lot 5 stars
1/17/04 fliss + matt elephent? they should have called this one sloth. 1 stars
12/31/03 Edler Outrageous! Outrageous! Outrageous! Outrageous! Outrageous! 1 stars
12/24/03 Kyle Wow. 5 stars
11/27/03 RomanPOstrovksy/The Red Head Kid/ It was Great playing the Red Head kid in Elephant. 5 stars
11/16/03 Daniel Provost Great movie... 5 stars
11/12/03 DM Utterly amazing- boring at first but builds to a mind-blowing climax 5 stars
10/27/03 Serious George It's about everything in-between. It's about what's missing. It 5 stars
10/22/03 Britta Erickson couldn't be a more unnecessary film 1 stars
10/10/03 Lynn Bredeson Elephant is a great movie if you have lived the life of these students. 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 04-May-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  01-Apr-2004


Directed by
  Gus Van Sant

Written by
  Gus Van Sant

Cast
  Alex Frost
  Eric Deulen
  John Robinson
  Jordan Taylor



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