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Water for Elephants

823 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

ACADEMY AWARD® Winners Reese Witherspoon* and Christoph Waltz** join Robert Pattinson (The Twilight Saga) for this epic tale of forbidden love based on Sara Gruen’s acclaimed best seller. Against all odds, a veterinary student (Pattinson) and a beautiful circus performer from a bygone era (Witherspoon), meet and fall in love through their shared compassion for a special elephant. But their secret romance incurs the wrath of her dangerously volatile husband (Waltz).

Sara Gruen's bestselling novel comes to glossy life in this period romance. A sparkle-free Robert Pattinson plays Jacob Jankowski, who studies veterinary medicine during the Great Depression. After a family tragedy, he loses everything, including the chance to graduate from prestigious Cornell, so he hops a train, where he finds himself part of the struggling Benzini Brothers Circus. Ringleader August (Christoph Waltz, echoing his Oscar-winning Inglourious Basterds performance) has doubts about the softhearted lad, but a fellow Pole smoothes the way, and Jacob becomes the company vet, which leads him to platinum-blond equestrian Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), August's wife. The two make eyes at each other, but an affair would surely end badly, so they concentrate on their work. When Marlena's prize steed falls ill, August purchases an elephant, hoping Rosie will turn their fortunes around, and enlists Jacob to train her. Unfortunately, she's slow to respond to commands until Jankowski unlocks her secret--and after August has beaten the poor thing into submission. After that, things start to look up until Jacob steals a kiss from his dream girl. As in The Notebook, the film it most closely resembles, an elderly version of the central character (Hal Holbrook, touching) narrates in the present day (screenwriter Richard LaGravenese also adapted The Bridges of Madison County). He tells an interesting tale, so it's too bad the leads strike so few sparks. For those who find big-top classics like Nightmare Alley too dark, however, Francis Lawrence's feel-better variant may be just the ticket. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

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More From the Stars of Water for Elephants

Robert Pattinson


Special Features

Robert Pattinson Spotlight
Feature Performer Reese Witherspoon
The Traveling Show - Page to Screen
Audio Commentary with Director Francis Lawrence and Writer Richard LaGravenese

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon
  • Directors: Francis Lawrence
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Fox
  • DVD Release Date: November 1, 2011
  • Run Time: 121 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (823 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0041KKYHE
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,671 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Water for Elephants" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

265 of 284 people found the following review helpful By Shannon L. Yarbrough VINE VOICE on April 24, 2011
Format: DVD
I have to admit that Water for Elephants was a decent representation of the book. Take into consideration that a movie is never going to give you 100% of the book. That being said, I was disappointed with the parts of the book the movie left out. There were lots of little details and nuances that just can't come across on the full screen anyway, although you would have liked to have seen how they would have been portrayed. Although too numerous to mention and for those who haven't read the book it wouldn't matter anyway, the biggest (for those who have read it) would be the comedic scenes that play out with Jacob in the nursing home. All of those chapters were completely left out.

We open with an old man (Hal Holbrook) wandering into the parking lot of a circus that is packing up and moving out. A workman comes out to see if he is lost and invites him in out of the rain while the man calls the nursing home. The old man looks at the old black and white circus photos on the wall and recalls out loud which circuses they are from. This grabs the worker's attention and he mentions the Benzini Brothers Circus tragedy from years ago. The old man says he was there and the worker asks him to tell him about it. We flash back to a younger gentleman played by Robert Pattinson and the movie is played out as a flashback of the old man's story.

Although I never would have expected it, Robert Pattinson plays out a perfect Jacob. That irresistible smile he gets on his face when he's around the animals definitely lets us connect with Jacob the way we wanted to see him connecting with Rosie the elephant. Perfect choice for the part!

Christoph Waltz was a decent August, the ring master and circus owner.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Heidi on November 21, 2011
Format: DVD
Water for Elephants, a dramatic romance novel written by Sarah Gruen, was published in 2006 and has become quite a hit. It was said to be "gorgeous, brilliant, and superbly plotted" by the author Joshilyn Jackson. The book is narrated by a 93 year old, Jacob Jankowski. Jacob is spending his remaining years in a nursing home, reminiscing of his life and experiences in the circus. When he was 23, his life took a drastic turn when his parents died in a car accident. Jacob is left with no money and drops out of Cornell University, as he was studying to be a vet. Heartbroken, he finds himself on a circus train and quickly becomes the vet of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. This book has become such a success and was made into a movie in 2011, starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson.

Don't worry about the movie ruining the novel. The movie does an excellent job following Gruen's lead. It is common knowledge that the movie can never cover everything that happens in the book, but I was still very impressed with the quantity they did fit into the movie. The main events in the novel were portrayed well on the big screen. The movie producers did well using Gruen's detail in the book to develop the ultimate circus appearance. From the pink lace Marlena performs in, to the beautiful circus colors, this movie has it spot on.
This isn't your typical Notebook romance where their love is the main concentration. It's a love story amongst the darkness and hardships of being in a circus. The storyline is interesting, there are so many other things going on besides the building romance between Jacob and Marlena. Although, once the romance takes off, the move goes with it and has a tasteful twist at the end.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Pepper on September 4, 2011
Format: DVD
I wasn't sure what to expect going in to see the movie. Usually hollywood changes so many things that the story is totally different, but the screenwriter did a good job keeping the heart of the book alive in the movie. Of course things were changed. I wish we got to see a little more of old Jacob, and see more of Kiko and Camel in the movie, but it didn't change the story too much. I understand that they can only fit so much into a two hour movie. I actually liked the how the writers combined the characters of August and Uncle Al. As for the actors I thought they did a wonderful job. Robert Pattinson played young Jacob exactly how he was in the book, and did a wonderful job in the movie. I'm starting to like him as an actor more and more with each movie he does. Christoph Waltz there are no words, the man won an oscar for playing a villian, so he played August wonderfully. Him and Pattinson played off each other. With Reese, I thought she played Marlena well enough with what was given to her. I think this is my biggest gripe with the film. I felt like the writers didn't give Marlena enough storyline. We really didn't even get to see her and Jacob connect the way we did in the book. With old Jacob, I thought Hal Holbrook did a wonderful job. He makes you feel the pain he is going through when he is telling the story. I didn't know at the time, but I found out they shot this movie around the same time his wife died. Last but not least is Rosie the elephant. Just like with the book, the viewers will fall in love with this amazing creature. The movie itself is beautifully shot and told. The director took advantage of the time period to show that. All-in-all it's a fantastic book, and now it's a fantastic movie.
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