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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.]]>
Top Customer Reviews
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?Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love Gus Van Sant, superb and understated telling of ColumbinePublished 3 months ago by Kathleen McKenna Hewtson
one of my favorite movies. if you don't have an interest and want an almost real feel on what happened, the. this isn't for you. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Worst movie I've even seen in my life. Hate that I wasted $5 on it! Don't buy it!Published 9 months ago by Jmoore
Interesting, dark and sad. We need to pay much more attention to our youth.Published 10 months ago by Tra'c