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Water for Elephants (2011)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  22 April 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 90,520 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 260 user | 279 critic | 35 from

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)
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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?


Sara Gruen wrote the novel 'Water for Elephants' as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). See more »


When Marlena first appears with her horses and Silver Star before the performance, the horses wear halters. However, in the circus ring when she is working them at liberty, they don't have halters on. Cut to Marlena as she takes her bow, the line of horses rear behind her and all have on halters again. 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 Breakfast: Episode dated 6 May 2011 (2011) See more »


Don't Tell Him What Happened to Me
Written by Lew Brown, Buddy G. DeSylva (as BG De Sylva) and Ray Henderson
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Loved the book and very happy with the movie!
23 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Water for Elephants was a WONDERFUL book. I was afraid that no movie could compare to the delicious tale spun by Sara Gruen. I was particularly worried about Robert Pattinson being able to bring life to Jacob on screen (given that he's really only excelled at being a dead vampire). Also, the critics weren't too nice to this film.

I have to say though, I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I fell back into the story with the cast of characters. As everyone else has said, the film itself was beautiful and will probably win an award for cinematography. Of course having read the book, much of the descriptive detail of the circus life and circus characters was left out of the movie. Also, the book is extremely heart-wrenching in it's description of old Jacob in the nursing home and some of that feeling was left out along the way (though the opening scene brought me to tears!). Also, some of the scenes with Rosie brought me to tears. They picked a GREAT elephant for the part!! A screenwriter has a time limit to work with when paring down a book and overall it was done very well! If you've read the book, you won't be disappointed...the meat of the story and the characters makes it to the screen. My husband had not read the book and didn't know what he was missing and liked it as much as I did (and even laughed and shuddered along the way with me).

I have to say that I thought the one weak link was Reese Witherspoon. I thought her film portrayal of Marlena came across as weaker than the book version, but she was physically perfect for the part-beautiful! I loved it, it's definitely worth seeing!

45 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Anyone else feel this film was... Lacking? Minae
Why would Jacob mispronounce his own name? Nastassya
Why did the Cornell people disrupt his exam? jmhow
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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