Water for Elephants (2011) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • 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
  • An old man meanders around a circus late at night: he's missed his ride to a rest home. He tells the circus manager about his time in 1931 with the doomed Bandini Circus. He's Jake: when his parents die before he finishes veterinary studies, he hobos his way toward Albany, falling in with a circus. He diagnoses a lame horse, and August, the mercurial owner, hires him as a vet. August is in debt, throwing employees from the train in the dead of night. To sell tickets, he buys an elephant, tells Jake to train it and his young wife Marlena to ride it. While August's temper threatens the elephant, Marlena and Jake find a mutual attraction. And the doomed circus?

    - Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>
  • When an old man is found wandering in the parking area of the Circus Vargas, his owner invites him to come to his office to call the Green Haven nursing home to take him back home. The old man tells his name, Jacob Jankowski, and explains that he worked in the Benzini Bros. Circus in 1931. The owner is curious about it since in 1931 there was the most famous disaster in history of circuses in the Benzini Circus and asks Jacob to tell what happened. In 1931, during the Great Depression, the Polish American Jacob lives with his beloved parents in a small ranch and studies veterinary in the Cornell University. During his final exams, his parents die in a car accident. Jacob learns that he is homeless and without any money since his parents used their house to get a loan for his studies. Jacob leaves his town and jumps in a train in movement without destination to seek a job. Soon he finds that this is the Benzini Brothers Circus train and he finds a job cleaning the animals' excrement from the wagons. When the unstable and violent owner of the traveling circus, August, learns that Jacob is a veterinary, he hires him to train his attraction, the elephant Rosie. August and his bodyguard Blackie, throw workers that complain off the train in movement to get rid of them. Meanwhile Jacob meets August's wife and lead attraction Marlena, he immediately falls in love with her. Jacob gets closer to Marlena and soon he discovers that she is also in love with him, but she fears August.

    - Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • After seeing a photograph of the Benzini Bros. Circus circa 1931 among the possessions of Charlie O'Brien III, the owner/operator of the Circus Vargas, elderly Jacob Jankowski recounts to him the time he spent with Benzini Bros. that year. Because of a sudden change to his family and financial circumstance, Jacob, then twenty-three, was forced to give up everything he knew, including his home, his almost completed Cornell education in veterinary science, and what he had mapped out as his future. Hitting the road with no idea where he would end up, he stumbled across Benzini Bros. by accident, it being owned and operated at that time by August Rosenbluth. August, who was also the head animal trainer, treated people the way he trained his animals, with fear, intimidation and when need be violence and sometimes even death. Jacob started out doing the lowest of the menial work, but graduated to become the circus' vet, based on August's assumption that Jacob graduated. Regardless, August was happy to have him in the position, as Benzini Bros.'s main rival, Ringling Bros., had no such position on staff. Through many extreme ups and even more and severely extreme downs, Jacob became a trusted part of August's circus family. August acquired an aged elephant named Rosie in order for the circus to have a star attraction, which he hoped would get him out of his then financial hole. Jacob would be Rosie's trainer, and Marlena Rosenbluth, the circus' headlining horse trick rider and August's young wife, would be the performer with Rosie. Both Jacob and Marlena formed a bond with Rosie, in large part because of August's ill treatment of her. Although Jacob was immediately attracted to Marlena on first sight, they fell in love through their work together on the act with Rosie, but also had growing disdain for August and his violent ways. Their romantic triangle would not only threaten Jacob and Marlena's lives, but also the livelihood of the circus.

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

    - Written by tanm_86


When Jacob Jankowski,parents dead and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks...

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