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Elephant: A Film By Gus Van Sant (2004)

Alex Frost , Eric Deulen , Gus Van Sant  |  R |  DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (348 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Elias McConnell, Jordan Taylor
  • Directors: Gus Van Sant
  • Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS ES), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: HBO Studios
  • DVD Release Date: May 4, 2004
  • Run Time: 81 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (348 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001EFUFK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,025 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Elephant: A Film By Gus Van Sant" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette

Editorial Reviews

Winner of the Palme d'Or and Best Director prizes at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, Gus Van Sant's (Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester) Elephant takes us inside an American high school on one, single ordinary day that very rapidly turns tragic. Elephant demonstrates that high school life is a complex landscape where the vitality and beauty of young lives can shift from light to darkness with surreal speed. It's an ordinary high school day. Except that it's not.

DVD Features:
Featurette:On the Set of Elephant: "Rolling Through Time"
Full Screen Version
TV Spot:HBO Films Spot
Theatrical Trailer


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surreal June 17, 2004
Format:DVD
Not many people saw this movie in theatres, which is probably a shame; I think the mood of the film would be enhanced by being trapped in your seat the entire time. Gus Van Sant takes advantage of the fact that you already know what his movie is about: a high school shooting. He uses your knowledge to his advantage by playing on the tension you inevitably feel as you wonder, "Will it happen now? Now? Now?" Framing his shots to limit your view, he lets you wonder, all through the movie, what is going on just outside the frame--and eventually forces you to think about how, if many of the kids you're watching would do the same and think about things outside of their own small worlds, the tragic end of the movie might never arrive. But the movie doesn't offer solutions nearly as neat and tidy as that; it simply allows a day to unfold before your eyes, lets you see the world as it's experienced by both the killers and their victims, and shows both how hard it is to see the signs that someone is capable of such a massacre and how easy it might be if people would only pay attention.
And then there's the kiss, which has caused Van Sant no small amount of frustration. Without ruining the tension for those of you who choose to give 80 minutes to this movie, I can tell you that at one point the two killers, about to head for school to act out their plan, get in the shower together--or does one ambush the other? I'm really not sure if the first occupant of the shower knows the second will join him; I don't think we're meant to think that this has happened before. But he walks in, joins his only friend, and says, "Today's the day we're going to die...I never even kissed anyone, did you?
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High School as Metaphor for Life: February 14, 2005
Format:DVD
Elephant was a little too "real" for many tastes. I didn't enjoy the film as I watched it the first time, but thought van Sant did (as always) a terrific job presenting what he wanted to present - if not necessarily my type of movie. The film hasn't left me and the more I think about it - and rewatch it, the better it becomes.

Initially I felt the sense of ennui was a tad overdone watching the back of a student's head as he slowly moves from point A to point B - sometimes for endless minutes on end the camera will not break from that vantage point - the back of a head. The point seemed made both literally and succinctly the first time. Nonetheless, this device frees the narrative and affords van Sant opportunity to move his film in non-linear directions so the glimpse of a face unseen earlier is now viewed in full relief, a snatch of conversation previously heard comes into focus - even if briefly.

There are elements of the film that are touching and keenly observant. While van Sant has typically focused on youth for his body of work, these elements are evident in all ages but noticeably and most strongly pronounced in youth, those hormone filled, confusing years where, completely unbeknownst to us, its victims, life is pretty much going to be the same, and one can change high school for the factory, the hospital, the law firm, the insurance company or wherever you spend your days and those with whom you spend them.

As with life, some characters will stay with you, some you'd wish to know better, others (the three bulimic girlfriends) who natter on endlessly about nothing - and whose existence one forgets entirely - until the next encounter.

There is more than a little heartbreak in Elephant.
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86 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and fascinating. December 3, 2003
In ELEPHANT, director Gus Van Sant provides us with a day in the life of a high school, seen literally from the perspective of several students. Life in high school is presented realistically as boring. Some people have good times; others don't. Even the awkward girl isn't given many scenes to generate sympathy for her character. As a viewer, you don't really get to know much about any of the characters. You see that some of them are talented. Some of them are troubled. Some of them are just going through the motions.
Going into the film, you should be aware that a shooting will happen on this day. But, while watching it, you don't know when it's going to happen, who's going to do it, who's going to live or who's going to die. But the sense of dread you get builds as the film goes along.
Once the film identifies the shooters, we get a brief glimpse of their home life. We see how they got the guns. We get only an idea of the sort of video games they play, the films they watch, the drawings they've created. (The only real elephant seen in the film is a drawing that one of the killers has done and placed on his wall. He doesn't talk about it. We just see it.) We see one of them is a really good piano player. We see that he gets occasionally picked on by bullies, but we don't get the sense that he's overcome with a need for vengeance. We see the killers speak of the last day of their lives, and they kiss. We don't know if it's the first time they have done this. We don't know if they're gay or straight. I got the sense that this is the only time that they'll get a chance to kiss anyone, so they kiss each other. (Van Sant himself is gay, which I think is key. He's not suggesting that gay people are killers. But he's not saying that the killers in his film weren't repressed homosexuals, either.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars IN THE ROOM
I LIKE THIS MOVIE COZ IT'S ABOUT MASS-MURDER FOR EXTRA CREDIT POINTS.
THAT'S GREAT.
MARILYN MONROE TALKS AS IF SHE IS INTELLIGENT.
SHE IS. NOT.
Published 27 days ago by Gregory J. Belcastro
1.0 out of 5 stars Corrupt Disc
This is my favorite movie, but the disc is corrupted. It isn't scratched at all, but at the very end of the film--at a very crucial part--it stopped playing as the video glitched... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Patrick Szabo
5.0 out of 5 stars This film was well done.
I think that most people would find this film to be interesting and I believe that they might recommend it to others who they would know.
Published 4 months ago by Vincent Doraz
5.0 out of 5 stars School Shooting Film
This is a very well done film; seen through the eyes of others. It's tragic. For every school shooting we have I think of this film.
Published 4 months ago by Jason G. Gagnon
5.0 out of 5 stars Riverting!!!
Gus van Sant delivers a riveting and powerful movie that illustrates the tragedy in a compelling and gripping way. Great movie period!!!
Published 7 months ago by Howard A. Sinclair
5.0 out of 5 stars attacks from different angle than book COLUMBINE
I've read the non fiction book titled COLUMBINE which presented every known fact about the killings at the high schools by two seniors who went there. Read more
Published 9 months ago by carol irvin
1.0 out of 5 stars A Plotless Wonder
How anyone could give this plotless wonder more than one star is beyond me. It doesn't even warrant a whole star. This is the most boring movie I have ever seen in my life. Read more
Published 9 months ago by David Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly Van Sant's Best Film
In this social commentary set in the guise of a brutal school shooting, Gus van Sant made a film under 90 minutes long that feels like an epic. Read more
Published 10 months ago by macdougallgreen6
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
There is a reason this film won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival. It is a well planned and highly realistic film. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Directionline
1.0 out of 5 stars Watch the last ten minutes only - then you haven't wasted too much...
One of those movies that leaves me wanting to punch the director for wasting an hour or so of my life.
15 minutes in and we see two kids with guns heading into a school. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mean Machine
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