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Elephant (2003)

Cast: Alex Frost, Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, more...
Director: Gus Van Sant, Gus Van Sant
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Rating:
Studio: HBO Home Video
Genre: Drama, Politics and Social Issues, Coming of Age
Running Time: 80 min.
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Synopsis
Director Gus Van Sant returned to the low-key style of his early independent efforts with this semi-improvised exploration of how violence makes its way into a typical American high school. Eric (Eric Deulen) and Alex (Alex Frost) are two close friends who are students in a well-to-do suburb of Portland, OR. Eric and Alex are at once ordinary and misfits; while they seem to be confined to the edges of the clique-oriented social strata of high school, little about their behavior draws attention to itself. Or at least not during a typical school day; on their own time, the two boys are fascinated by Nazi iconography, enjoy violent video games, tentatively explore homoerotic desires, and coolly begin to make plans for an armed ambush of the school, drawing up working diagrams of the lunch room during study hall and buying rifles over the Internet. Drawing an expected degree of controversy, Elephant had its world premiere when it was screened in competition at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, where it won both Best Director for Van Sant and the Golden Palm award. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Special Features:

  • "On the Set of Elephant: Rolling Through Time"
  • Theatrical Trailer






Read GreenCine's exclusive interview with Gus Van Sant.

How are we to take Last Days? As Gus Van Sant's version of what Kurt Cobain was actually up to right until that last moment? Or Michael Pitt's? Or something else entirely? And how long can Van Sant afford to carry on in the unconventional vein of Gerry and Elephant? Sean Axmaker asks him. Full article >>


GreenCine Member Reviews

Baffling by ThoseMoes March 7, 2006 - 11:27 AM PST
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1 out of 4 members found this review helpful
How Gus van Sant managed to take something so intrinsically dramatic as a school shooting and turn it into a tedious, self-indulgent yawn-fest is beyond me. Even on fast-forward, some scenes were tiresome and boring. I was ultimately glad to see everyone get shot in the end because it meant this piece of crap would be over with.

Worth the Price of Admission by JLevendos September 20, 2004 - 8:17 PM PDT
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6 out of 7 members found this review helpful
This film seems to divide viewers as it did critics in 2003. The film is not perfect by any means, particularly the ending, which I found wanting. But regardless of its flaws, the film has its merits, which certainly outweigh its faults. It's a thought provoking, beautifully filmed elegy that is certainly worth the price of admission.

Overly Artistic Yet Still Intriguing by JMVerville September 13, 2004 - 8:16 PM PDT
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5 out of 10 members found this review helpful
Gus Van Sant's Elephant cannot be characterized as having a high entertainment level, nor can it be said to truly lead to any points of importance. It is simply an artistically done film that shows numerous interesting things happen throughout the film, leading you through a typical day in a high school. And you often see this mistake happen when trying to portray a commonplace event: the film becomes boring and common and not worth watching (as you see in films like Suburbia and 25 Watts, where directors went to portray something very similarly).

This cardinal sin sets the whole pace for the film, and the result is that we are stuck with a relatively boring film that has a grand finale, though the rest of it is not so. The acting was very amateur in many respects, though at times I was fairly impressed with the amateur's performance (though still amateur it was).

I also felt that sometimes the camera work was not the good artistic, but was the painstakingly artistic; not the artistic for the sake of beauty, but the artistic for the sake of being different. A lot of the shots that centered around being overly close to the person or the long walking scenes were not beneficial to the film in the least, nor were they profound; they were just shooting the film from an overly artsy point of view.

The same can be said for some of the musical juxtapositions; Kubrick was a master at juxtaposing film and music, causing thought-provocation just by the musical score selected for certain scenes (see: Clockwork Orange for the most perfect example) but in this sometimes the classical music really is not contributing. Sometimes it seems as if the musical score is supposed to be profound, but truly, it is not.

Furthermore, a lot of the sound quality throughout the film is not very good (and I believe purposefully so). Sometimes we are encouraged to eavesdrop on a conversation happening close-by, yet we can scarcely make out a lot of the important points being said and only catch very small portions. Although these small portions are sometimes better than catching the whole of it, sometimes it really does take away from the film.

However, this film did have its' memorable moments and points at which the artsy nature of it impressed me, and this film will stick with me as being one worth watching, however I cannot see how this one Cannes' most prestigious award in 2003. I do not recommend this as an outstanding film, but it is certainly watchable.

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GreenCine Member Rating
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(Average 6.57)
373 Votes
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Cannes Film Festival & More - 2003
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Official Selection, Certain Regards... and more. Here is a bit more information on the films screened at the Cannes. I have attempted to list all the films that were considered for an award as well as any special screenings.
kraigpdx
100 Best English Language Films That I've Seen
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Alphabetical Order: Best English Narratives in the World
MDallum

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