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Water for Elephants (2011)

PG-13  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  22 April 2011 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 91,491 users   Metascore: 52/100
Reviews: 261 user | 279 critic | 35 from Metacritic.com

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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3 wins & 10 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?


Hal Holbrook had been recently widowed in real life when he filmed his scenes. See more »


The night Jacob and Marlena run away, when Marlena rushes in Jacob's compartment, she wears a black satin robe over her dress which can also be seen when they are standing over the edge of the train ready to jump. However, when they jump and start walking away from the trails, Marlena wears only her dress. The satin robe reappears when they get in the hotel room. 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 »


Jelly's Blues
Written by Keith Nichols
Courtesy of APM
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One Spectacular Show
22 April 2011 | by (Dallas, Texas) – See all my reviews

Readers, fear not. This is one adaption that lives up to the book.

Water for Elephants is pure beauty. Despite the fact that it takes place during the Depression, it makes you almost wish you lived during the '30s.

One reason is the costumes. They are wonderfully done, as well as the makeup. Another is the eye candy. No, I'm not talking about Robert Pattinson(though he looks as gorgeous as ever). I'm talking about the breathtaking cinematography, courtesy of Rodrigo Prieto.

While the leads(Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz) all turn in GREAT performances, the real star here is Tai the elephant. She plays Rosie, the newest addition to The Benzini Bros. Most Spectacular Show on Earth, who is brought in in hopes of taking The Benzini Bros. circus to a new level(particularly to the level of Ringling Bros.).

As per usual, there are quite a few changes that may or may not irritate the readers. It all depends on the person. One that I felt was an improvement upon the book, however, was the combining of August and Uncle Al. I honestly didn't miss Al one bit.

Water for Elephants is a beautiful, enchanting, mesmerizing must-see.

45 of 67 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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