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Elephant (2003) - movie overview

Elephant (2003)

User Rating
(106 votes)
Critic Rating
(15 reviews)
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Quotes (7)
Plot Description
Shooting Locations

Release Date
• USA: Nov 7, 2003
• UK: 30 Jan 2004
DVD Release Date
• R1: May 4, 2004
• R2: 26 Jul 2004

Budget USD 3,000,000

Official Website:
Elephant Website

MPAA Rating
Rated R for disturbing violent content, language, brief sexuality and drug use - all involving teens.

Running Time
1 hour, 21 minutes

Country USA

Studio Blue Relief, Fearmakers Studio, HBO Films, Meno Films, Pie Films

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Genre: Drama, Teenage, School / Campus, Murder, Psychodrama, Serial Killer, Gay/Lesbian, Psychos, Gore, Revenge, Disturbing

Tagline: An ordinary high school day. Except that it's not.

Plot: Winner of the Palme d’Or and Best Director prizes at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, Gus Van Sant’s Elephant takes us inside an American high school on what appears to be an ordinary day.

Throughout his career, from Mala Noche and My Own Private Idaho through Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester, Van Sant has explored what it is to be young and searching for a place in the world, an identity that feels true. With Elephant, Van Sant takes these inquiries into new terrain, working with actual high school students to create a portrait of teenagers in today’s volatile world. Elephant unfolds on an ordinary day, filled with class work, football, gossip and socializing. The film observes the comings and goings of its characters from a gentle remove, allowing us to see them as they are. For each of the students we meet, high school is a different experience: stimulating, friendly, traumatic, lonely, hard. Beautiful and poetic – yet deeply disturbing - Elephant shows high school life as a complex landscape where the vitality and incandescent beauty of young lives can shift from light to darkness with surreal speed.

It’s a beautiful fall day, and golden leaves skitter ahead of the wind across green lawns. Walking through the park on his way to class, Eli persuades a punk-rock

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 External Reviews
external linkGus Van Sant’s new film, Elephant, is a hard film to judge; it is full of style and is poetically told, and yet Sant (who wrote and directed) doesn’t necessarily make any bold statements regarding his subject matter. B

external linkElephant is nonetheless a remarkably intriguing look at a modern day high school - not to mention one of the most interesting movies on a purely visceral level to come around in a while. 3/4
--David Nusair (Reel Film Reviews)

external linkElephant wears its artsy-fartsy convictions on its sleeve. It's strapped with a mask of contrived importance, never once becoming anything more than a visceral exploitation of past events. In two words: Not Fun. 0/5
--B. Alan Orange (MovieWeb)

external linkGus Van Sant's award-winning Elephant is a pretty-much-pointless look at youth and violence, following several youngsters (mostly non-actors) through a school day marred by a Columbine-style shooting. 2/5
--Nev Pierce (BBC Films)

external linkA valiant experiment in existential pathology gone tepid. 75/100
--Jon Lap (Apollo Guide)

 Directed by
Gus Van Sant
Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, To Die For
 Written by
Gus Van Sant
Good Will Hunting, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Finding Forrester
John Robinson
Lords of Dogtown, On the Set of 'Elephant': Rolling Through Time, Transformers
Alex Frost
On the Set of 'Elephant': Rolling Through Time, The Lost, The Standard
Elias McConnell
Paris, je t'aime, On the Set of 'Elephant': Rolling Through Time, House of Boys
Eric Deulen
On the Set of 'Elephant': Rolling Through Time
Carrie Finklea
Harvest of Fear, The Path of Evil, Simon Says
Kristen Hicks
On the Set of 'Elephant': Rolling Through Time
 Music By

external linkImpressively directed, this is audacious, frustrating and horrifying in equal measure - Van Sant’s film raises plenty of questions but refuses to provide any answers. 4/5
--Matthew Turner (ViewLondon)

external linkAn intelligent reflection on the Columbine massacre, preferring difficult questions to easy answers, with the sort of quiet subtlety that one would never expect from an elephant. 8/10
--Anton Bitel (Movie Gazette)



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