Up 216 this week

Elephant (2003)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  14 November 2003 (USA)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.2/10 from 68,145 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 687 user | 210 critic | 37 from Metacritic.com

Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.



Watch Trailer
0Check in

On Disc

at Amazon

6 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Paranoid Park (2007)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A teenage skateboarder's life begins to fray after he is involved in the accidental death of a security guard.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Gabe Nevins, Daniel Liu, Taylor Momsen
Last Days (2005)
Biography | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A Seattle-set rock & roll drama about a musician whose life and career is reminiscent of Kurt Cobain's.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento
Gerry (2002)
Adventure | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A friendship between two young men is tested when they go for a hike in a desert and forget to bring any water or food with them.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Casey Affleck, Matt Damon
Kids (1995)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A day in the life of a group of teens as they travel around New York City skating, drinking, smoking, and deflowering virgins.

Director: Larry Clark
Stars: Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Chloë Sevigny
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A pharmacy-robbing dope fiend and his crew pop pills and evade the law.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James Le Gros
Documentary | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Filmmaker Michael Moore explores the roots of America's predilection for gun violence.

Director: Michael Moore
Stars: Michael Moore, Charlton Heston, Marilyn Manson
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embark on a journey of self discovery and find their relationship stumbling along the way.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo
Bully (2001)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A pack of naïve teenagers conspire to murder a mutual friend, whose aggressive demeanor has proved too much.

Director: Larry Clark
Stars: Brad Renfro, Nick Stahl, Bijou Phillips
Milk I (2008)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The story of Harvey Milk, and his struggles as an American gay activist who fought for gay rights and became California's first openly gay elected official.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch
To Die For (1995)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Suzanne Stone is an aspiring TV personality who will do anything to be in the spotlight, including enlisting three teenagers to kill her husband.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix
Ken Park (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Ken Park is about several Californian skateboarders' lives and relationships with and without their parents.

Directors: Larry Clark, Edward Lachman
Stars: Adam Chubbuck, James Bullard, Seth Gray
L'enfant (2005)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Bruno and Sonia, a young couple living off her benefit and the thefts committed by his gang, have a new source of money: their newborn son.

Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Stars: Jérémie Renier, Déborah François, Jérémie Segard


Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Deulen ...
Elias McConnell ...
Jordan Taylor ...
Nicole George ...
Brittany Mountain ...
Alicia Miles ...
Kristen Hicks ...
Bennie Dixon ...
Mr. McFarland
Mr. Luce
Ellis Williams ...
GSA Teacher (as Ellis E. Williams)


A day in the lives of a group of average teenage high school students. The film follows every character and shows their daily routines. However two of the students plan to do something that the student body won't forget. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An ordinary high school day. Except that it's not.


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent content, language, brief sexuality and drug use - all involving teens | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

14 November 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Elefante  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,229,210 (France) (24 October 2003)


$1,227,000 (USA) (26 December 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Gus Van Sant borrowed the title from Alan Clarke's film of the same name, and thought that it referred to the Chinese proverb about five blind men who were each led to a different part of an elephant. Each man thinks that it is a different thing. What Clarke's title actually referred to was the idea of the "elephant in the room", where something is so obvious that to miss it would be the equivalent of not seeing a huge elephant in an ordinary room, yet is still not recognized out of either stupidity or willful ignorance. In this film, the "elephant in the room" is the homicidal rage of Alex and Eric, which leaves them free to precipitate the last-scene massacre at their school. See more »


When Eli is developing his roll of film, the width is too wide for 135 mm film; it looks more like 120/220 film. See more »


[first lines]
Mr. McFarland: What? Hey! Where are you going? Come here.
John McFarland: Oh, my God, Dad.
Mr. McFarland: Get in the car. You're gonna be late for school. Come on.
John McFarland: Mom's gonna kill you.
See more »


Featured in Brows Held High: Gerry Redux! (2014) See more »


Supernal Infinite Space (Kawabata) Waikiki Easy Meat (Mano)
Written and Performed by Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.
Courtesy of Resonant / Static Caravan Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Elegantly Disturbing and Shallow
3 October 2005 | by (New Jersey, USA) – See all my reviews

I've never been a believer in Gus Van Sant the auteur. "Drugstore Cowboy" was a quasi-entertaining and promising first feature most notable for its pretty North Western scenery and the even prettier Heather Graham in her film debut, but nothing too special ever followed, and the "Pscyho" remake was an abomination on every level. Van Sant's mainstream films were successful for reasons beyond his artistic input. "To Die For" heralded Nicole Kidman's first tour de force, and "Good Will Hunting" launched the careers of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for better and for worse.

Here, with "Elephant" Van Sant returns to the same pretty North Western scenery (just an in "Drugstore Cowboy" the movie was filmed on location in Portland, Oregon) and populates it with even prettier young men and women sleepwalking through an "interpretation" of the events of the Columbine Massacre. There's an elegant listlessness to the camera-work as Van Sant lulls us into a beautifully mundane day in the life of some random high school students. There's a creepy undercurrent, not only in the voyeuristic way in which he films his young charges, but also in the long lingering single shots of students walking through hallways and sidewalks from behind. Suddenly, as the plot of two alienated young men comes to fruition, you realize that the camera-work is meant to copy the "killer's-eye-view" of the violent and sadistic video games the young men play before making it a reality at their school. There's a rising tension that few film-makers have been able to craft, and for that Van Sant deserves accolades.

For all the artificial prettiness, this is without a doubt a highly disturbing viewing experience. In the end, some of it seemed too random (what was the point of the "Benny" character or the kiss in the shower?), and it culminates ambiguously with all the loose ends untethered. A more capable story-teller would have offered a conclusion, but all Van Sant leaves us is with some haunting classical music and beautiful shot of a cloud covered North Western sky.

64 of 121 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
An hour of my life i'll never get back CementedShoes
This movie was horrid IncarnadineMoon
What Kind of School Is This? scooter_norman
Did anyone else get a Children of Men or Enter the Void vibe? Aborawatabinost
Creepiest ending of all time lepe_67
First viewing and a little confused tobikanoby
Discuss Elephant (2003) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: