Colonial tea planter John Wiley, visiting England at the end of World War II, wins and weds lovely English rose Ruth and takes her home to Elephant Walk, Ceylon, where the local elephants have a grudge against the plantation. Ruth's delight with the tropical wealth and luxury of her new home is tempered by isolation as the only white woman in the district; by her husband's occasional imperious arrogance; by a mutual physical attraction with plantation manager Dick Carver; and by the hovering, ominous menace of the hostile elephants... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Vivien Leigh was originally cast. Her mental illness begun affecting things during filming, and so she was replaced by Elizabeth Taylor. Many long shots and shots from behind are still of Leigh. See more »
During the first bicycle polo scene, there are four drink glasses on the server's tray when John Wiley takes one, followed by another rider who also grabs a glass, leaving just two on the tray. However the very next pass in which a rider goes for a glass the tray is full. See more »
At first glance, ELEPHANT WALK is a saga of the wicked decadent rich. That's the angle all the reviewers here have discussed. Something like the TV show DALLAS, maybe, if a lot more imaginative.
But the more interesting aspect is that it's a parable about (**SPOILER, SPOILER!**) nature taking back her own. Y'see, the lovably decadent and endearingly hateful characters in this film are paying an ancestral debt for the originally sinful act whereby the previous generation's patriarch simply HAD, in his hubris, to build his equivalent of "Tara" right in the path of what had been the local elephants' right-of-way from time immemorial. Typical human behavior, I fear, but the fact is that elephants are just as territorial as we are, and if you cut off their right-of-way they will still retain the long memory for which they are so noted. Even if all they can do about it is gather in front of the land y'all stole, flap their ears and trunks at you, and trumpet their displeasure.
And while all this is going on, the Liz Taylor and Peter Finch characters are having the fancy marital problems which take up all the attention of IMDb reviewers. The reviewers' attention span is like that of the characters in the film, an attitude which is something like "who cares, they're nothing but a bunch of silly elephants". Indeed, one character says with a smirk, "the natives here believe elephants are people. They call them the Elephant People." Ridiculous idea, right?
Well, not exactly. One otherwise fine day, an epidemic ravages the Elephant Walk plantation, and as a result there are no native servants ("beaters", in the local jargon) there to drive them away for the white masters' benefit. In fact, to the Elephant People's delight (and mine, I must admit), NOBODY is there to answer their challenge, so they walk on in and reclaim their heritage. (No doubt they are at this time singing the elephantese translation of Woody Guthrie's: "As I was walking that ribbon of highway,/I saw a SIGN that said no tresPASSING,/But on the other side, it just said nothing./That side was made for you and me.") And the invaded mansion catches fire from a downed chandelier, burning to the ground. Because no humans are there to protect it.
No, I'm wrong. There's ONE human there, one old native who's been serving Master too long to know what's good for him and too old to be running around helping contain the epidemic. He does wave his arms and shout "Go back, Elephant People! Go back!", and the predictable pachydermal response is is "Yeah? Or what?" They trample him, of course. And praise the Lord, they destroy the mansion.
This has been long winded, but I really wanted everybody to pay attention to what this film is really about. The moral of this story is: There comes a moment, in the awful providence of God, when nature turns the tables on her rapists. A moment when you will realize, as the poet said, that "You'll never get rid of the boom-de-boom nomatter whatcha do." And when that happens, all the acting talent and the costumes and the lovable decadence in the world won't save the Taylor and Finch characters. Their sizzling love and hate affairs won't amount to a hill of beans.
If Tarzan existed, this would be his favorite movie.
O give me a home/where the elephants roam... But seriously, guys, I think this is a pretty good cautionary tale.
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