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Elephant (2003)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 63,787 users   Metascore: 70/100
Reviews: 676 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.

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Title: Elephant (2003)

Elephant (2003) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

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:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

3 October 2003 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Elefante  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When we see Alex and Eric sleeping, we can see the cover of the book Eric has been reading: US Army Technical Manual #31-201-1, which covers the making and use of Incendiary devices. See more »

Goofs

When the three girls are getting their trays in the cafeteria, there is a male student standing to the left. The microphone pole casts a shadow on the back of his neck. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Episode #1.14 (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Beneath the Forest Floor
Written and Performed by Hildegard Westerkamp
Courtesy of empreintes DIGITALes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Topical tribute that we should never forget - 74%
17 July 2004 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

I remember the fuss that surrounded this obscure movie upon release. How dare a film-maker, even one like Gus Van Sant, make a film based around the tragic shooting at Columbine? I suspect that most people's fears were based around what the film might be like. Would the murderers be defended? Would the violence be explicit or glorified? Perhaps they should have taken a moment to watch this film which treats its subject matter with the respect and gravitas it deserves.

The film introduces us to several high school kids and follows them around during a normal school day. Frequently, the film overlaps itself as each character interacts with others or visits the same location other characters are doing their bit in. Groups of girls gossip in the canteen, a wannabe photographer develops his prints, a shy girl helps out in the library after a physical education lesson. Only when the horrible truth of what is to come becomes clear does the film's terrifying core reveals itself.

There is no doubt that this is a powerful film, despite almost nothing happening until the final reel. All the actors are unknowns, the dialogue is largely improvised and the soundtrack is reduced to a simple piano tune played by one of the participants. But because you know what is to happen, you remain fixed on the characters milling around doing nothing - imagine "Big Brother" but with the added thrill of knowing that something sick and evil is coming. If anything, it becomes worse when the two gunmen begin to reveal themselves and their plan to the viewer. I found myself wishing I could step in the screen and stop them and it is a long time since any film made me care that much. It is quite strange how time seems to ebb by so slowly, especially as the tragedy unfolds.

The violence is never glorified or justified, merely portrayed as though it were actually happening before your eyes. It will almost certainly have greater resonance among American viewers as it displays the dark side of U.S. gun laws. How many more schools must suffer tragedies such as this before something is changed? It took Britain just one such incident before some of the most strict gun laws in the world were introduced. The film is almost pleading through the screen: would you still back our gun laws if this happened at your school or your child's school?

It has to be said that "Elephant" is a difficult film to watch, the sense of unease growing in the viewer as everyone in the film carries on as normal. I think that rather than exploit Columbine, Gus Van Sant has treated the memory of those who died with respect and honour. Admittedly, the film has it's faults. The ending felt rushed and confusing and the pace throughout is dreadfully slow, probably to allow the full extent of what's happening to sink in. There is no doubt that "Elephant" has more than a message at its heart - it is a powerful tribute to the pupils and teachers who died that day at Columbine High School. Never forget.


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An hour of my life i'll never get back CementedShoes
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