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Elephant (2003)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama, Thriller  |  14 November 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 68,167 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.



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6 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »



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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?


When Elias thanks the punk couple, the actors give him their real first names (Wolfgang and Caroline). See more »


The shot guy's (Nate's) blood is too high on the door in a later scene when Benny comes to that room to help the girl (Acadia). 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 »


Referenced in From Gerry to Elephant (2004) See more »


Für Elise
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
Courtesy of FirstCom Music, Inc.
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User Reviews

8/10 good dialogue, unique storytelling
6 June 2004 | by (Albuquerque, USA) – See all my reviews

This movie is a fictional story, but it is essentially a retelling of the Columbine High massacre. It only spans maybe an hour in time, but it coves the points of view of a lot of people, from victims to bystanders to the murderers themselves.

It's a particularly important piece because of its storytelling style. Van Sant has the camera follow one character at a time, on the day of the murders, and lets the story tell itself. It is about as neutral as one can get, really. Van Sant doesn't use foreshadowing, he doesn't frame any character up as a particular archetype, he doesn't play ominous music, and the dialogue is about as inane and high school-ish as you can get, very realistic actually. There are no jokes, and relatively few scenes designed for maximum shock effect. That's the whole point: the situation was a normal high school day, and the very events, regardless of how you paint them, should be as shocking as anything. All the while you're asking yourself, "How can this possibly lead to a massacre? These are all normal kids," which faithfully recreates the tone of morning leading up the unexpected real life events.

If you're looking for a conventional movie with a clear beginning, middle, end, good and bad guys, glorified heroism and demonized violence, you won't like this movie, it's not a made for TV special, it's closer to an art film.

Some people have expressed anger at the movie, accusing it of some sort of liberal Michael Moore anti-2nd amendment sympathies or heavy handed preaching. Having seen it I can't possibly understand what they're talking about. My suspicion is that they're seeing what they want to see. And that leads me to wonder just what a good movie about Columbine would look like, in their opinions. To me, this is it.

46 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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