7.2/10
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696 user 217 critic

Elephant (2003)

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

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Writer:

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4,150 ( 45)

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8 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Jordan Taylor ...
Jordan
...
Carrie
Nicole George ...
Nicole
Brittany Mountain ...
Brittany
Alicia Miles ...
Acadia
...
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:

14 November 2003 (USA)  »

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) (28 December 2003)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The school this was filmed at (Whitaker Middle School, formerly Adams High School in Portland, OR) was torn down in 2007 due to asbestos and black mold. The school had already been shut down when the film was shot. See more »

Goofs

Alex and Eric order the gun online, which is illegal as you would either have to have it sent to a federally licensed gun dealer, or they would have to have a federal firearms license (FFL). 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 2004 IFP/West Independent Spirit Awards (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Tueren der Wahrnehmung
Written and Performed by Hildegard Westerkamp
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User Reviews

Making a vacuum out of a tragedy
10 February 2004 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Imagine it: A horrific tragedy has taken place in a local school, the violence and inexplicability of which has stunned everyone who has heard of it. A meeting is announced that will address the issues that such an event has raised. At the meeting, the main speaker takes the floor, stares at his audience for a few long seconds, then shrugs his shoulders and mumbles "S**t happens". What? You ask. That's it? "Well," he says, "you can't expect me to provide YOU with the answers. But I did take some nice photos".

That's "Elephant".

It would be hard to tackle such a topic without sinking into "Movie of the Week" territory, so Van Sant avoids this by sitting down and not doing much of anything. But artfully.

Why was this film made? What does it tell us about the events? That they happened. What does he tell us about the victims? Nothing, absolutely nothing. We follow them around, interminably (I feel I knew the backs of their heads intimately, if nothing else) and it's a lot like reality tv -- dull: uninvolving, unrevealing and uneventful. What does it tell us about the perpetrators? Nothing we don't already know, haven't already read. Insights? None. It exists in its own universe, blank and unfeeling, a perfect circle, Art for Art's sake.

As far as it goes, there are some beautiful touches, here -- the overlapping time frames, the slowing down of the action to signify a small, private, joyful moment -- but Van Sant bottles out on taking them anywhere, afraid as he seems to be of taking a stand, making a statement or engaging, emotionally, in any way with anything here.

All in all, an Artsy and pointless exercise in navel-gazing, one that masquerades as something much deeper, and hopes its own silence and blankness will be taken for wisdom.


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