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Water for Elephants (2011)

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Set in the 1930s, a former veterinary student takes a job in a traveling circus and falls in love with the ringmaster's wife.



(screenplay), (novel)
3,596 ( 563)
3 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rosie's Caretaker
Mr. Erwin
Mr. Robinson


After his parents' death, Jacob Jankowski is left penniless and homeless. Events lead him to joining the circus as their vet, working under their unstable boss August whose violent tendencies give everyone reason to be cautious around him, including his beautiful and quiet wife Marlena, whom August is very possessive of and who Jacob finds himself soon falling in love with. Written by mel47

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Life is the most spectacular show on earth.


Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for moments of intense violence and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:





Release Date:

22 April 2011 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Agua para elefantes  »

Box Office


$38,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$16,842,353 (USA) (22 April 2011)


$58,700,247 (USA) (5 August 2011)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

| |


| (home movie sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Channing Tatum, Kyle Gallner, Anthony Fitzgerald, Andrew Garfield and Emile Hirsch all auditioned for the role of Jacob Jankowski. See more »


The Empire State Building is seen in the distant NYC skyline, complete with its TV tower. The tower wasn't added to the building until 1951. See more »


[first lines]
Russ: [in the rain] Uh, Excuse me sir. Can we help you? Can we help you with something?
Old Jacob: Did I miss the Spec?
Charlie: Uh, yeah, I'm afraid so. The show was this afternoon.
Old Jacob: Oh.
Charlie: Did you come with the folks from Green Haven? Why don't we get out of the rain, and we'll call them for you.
Old Jacob: No, no! I came on my own.
Russ: It's okay. We're gonna call the home. We're gonna have them come pick you up.
Old Jacob: I'm telling you, I didn't come with the home! Why don't you take those rings out of your head, and maybe you ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

In 'The producers wish to thank' section of the credits, the Circus World Museum is listed as being in Barbaroo, WI. The actual town is Baraboo, WI. See more »


Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #1.14 (2011) See more »


Hush Little Baby
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Old Hollywood Movie
22 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Water For Elephants takes us back in time, not just because it is set in the 30's but also because the movie is filmed with such quality and attention to detail, it is very much like movies used to be made. No reliance on CGI or profanity to make up for lack of imagination either. The dialog is crisp and the film adheres very much to the spirit of the book, even if things were consolidated or omitted for the film.

The cinematography is lush and if the film doesn't win an award for it, it will be a travesty.

And the performances are wonderful. Christoph Waltz is captivating as a complex character and Reese Witherspoon walks a fine line (no pun intended) between the role of a dutiful wife and that of a survivor. But it is Robert Pattinson who delivers a range of emotion not seen from him before. He is understated and again reminds me of actors of old - Gary Cooper specifically. He plays a gentleman and a scholar but also shows passion and intensity. Any doubt viewers might have had on his abilities as an actor are wiped away, as he more than holds his own in scenes with two Oscar winners.

This is a must-see movie for anyone wanting to see more quality films and less action-packed/violence ridden/computer enhanced drivel at the theaters. Bravo!

136 of 170 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anyone else feel this film was... Lacking? Minae
Why did the Cornell people disrupt his exam? jmhow
Why would Jacob mispronounce his own name? Nastassya
Anyone else feel this film was a remake of Walt Disney´s Dumbo? franciscocastro
The math of Jacob’s Age diogenes-13
Am I the only one who sees the resemblance? SwayBreezy
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