7.2/10
78,671
694 user 210 critic
Trailer
2:08 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

ON DISC
Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.

Director:

Gus Van Sant

Writer:

Gus Van Sant
Reviews
Popularity
4,066 ( 536)
8 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Paranoid Park (2007)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A teenage skateboarder's life begins to fray after he is involved in the accidental death of a security guard.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Gabe Nevins, Daniel Liu, Taylor Momsen
Last Days (2005)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

A Seattle musician's life and career are reminiscent to those of Kurt Cobain.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Michael Pitt, Lukas Haas, Asia Argento
Gerry (2002)
Adventure | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A friendship between two young men is tested when they go for a hike in a desert and forget to bring any water or food with them.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Casey Affleck, Matt Damon
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embark on a journey of self discovery and find their relationship stumbling along the way.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A pharmacy-robbing dope fiend and his crew pop pills and evade the law.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, James Le Gros
Restless I (2011)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

The story of a terminally ill teenage girl who falls for a boy who likes to attend funerals and their encounters with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot from WWII.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Henry Hopper, Ryo Kase
Kids (1995)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A day in the life of a group of teens as they travel around New York City skating, drinking, smoking, and deflowering virgins.

Director: Larry Clark
Stars: Leo Fitzpatrick, Justin Pierce, Chloë Sevigny
To Die For (1995)
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A beautiful but naïve aspiring television personality films a documentary on teenagers with a darker ulterior motive.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: Nicole Kidman, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alex Frost ... Alex
Eric Deulen ... Eric
John Robinson ... John McFarland
Elias McConnell ... Elias
Jordan Taylor Jordan Taylor ... Jordan
Carrie Finklea ... Carrie
Nicole George Nicole George ... Nicole
Brittany Mountain Brittany Mountain ... Brittany
Alicia Miles Alicia Miles ... Acadia
Kristen Hicks ... Michelle
Bennie Dixon Bennie Dixon ... Benny
Nathan Tyson ... Nathan
Timothy Bottoms ... Mr. McFarland
Matt Malloy ... Mr. Luce
Ellis Williams Ellis Williams ... GSA Teacher (as Ellis E. Williams)
Edit

Storyline

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

Taglines:

An ordinary high school day. Except that it's not.

Genres:

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:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

14 November 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Elefante See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$93,356, 26 October 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,227,000, 28 December 2003

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,020,543, 8 January 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The original script draft was written by Laura Albert. See more »

Goofs

When Nathan is walking from the football field to the school, you can see tracks in the grass from the dolly used in a previous take. However, the tracks do not follow the same path as the take shown in the film. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References A Clockwork Orange (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Supernal Infinite Space (Kawabata) Waikiki Easy Meat (Mano)
Written and Performed by Acid Mothers Temple and The Melting Paraiso U.F.O.
Courtesy of Resonant / Static Caravan Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
VanSant's best thus far?
24 May 2004 | by davidalsSee all my reviews

Gus VanSant's ELEPHANT isn't an unquestionable masterpiece, but it's close. I found it to be hypnotic and gripping, and in spite of knowing how things would end, I still found the ending to be devastating.

The lone flaw I can identify is originality - this film owes a tremendous debt to certain international directors (Bela Tarr and an earlier Irish ELEPHANT, along with current maverick directors like Abbas Kiarostami, Hirokazu Kore'eda and Tsai Ming-liang) in both look and perspective, and it's not the only recent American film to make effective use of poetic imagery: FAR FROM HEAVEN, LOST IN TRANSLATION, CHARLOTTE SOMETIMES, RAISING VICTOR VARGAS all took a similar approach to their subject matter, and were all just as effective.

But VanSant's style has matured - the sky scenes in ELEPHANT seem to quote DRUGSTORE COWBOY, and in both films they symbolize the passage of time, the general drift of life, and in opening with such a scene, VanSant is offering a subtle warning that ELEPHANT is poetic and interpretive, not a docudrama or realistic take on high school shootings, and shouldn't be taken as such. Characters drift through the day, knowing each other at mostly superficial levels (not moving beyond the level of stereotypes), which feels like what I remember high school to often be, and VanSant has no interest or need to move beyond that - to 'read into' these characters, or have them make grand speeches and gestures would've only made this film preposterous.

ELEPHANT isn't about the media (which is ubiquitous), homosexuality (a random genetic occurrence found in any setting), bullies (which exist everywhere as well, though for psychological or sociological reasons) or any variety of high school caste system - it's about the randomness of violence, and the first two thirds of this film - in both the gliding long shots following characters (and the audio, with conversations drifting in and out), and the fragmented timeline (shifting back and forth in time as it moves from one character to another) - is a startling portrayal of the random, anonymous nature of an average day at school. It could be noted that the school is just a location of convenience in VanSant's hands; this film (or the incidents depicted in it) could be set anywhere, which is partly the point. In much of the world, random, senseless violence is always a possibility, which is really what this film observes and (in the horror of the depiction) protests, and it's just as much of a tragedy when it occurs in a generic, random, average setting (like this school and the people in it), as when it occurs in a dramatic, unusual setting that creates martyrs and heroes.

A very challenging film, in the best of ways. For quite a while, we've seen a number of films attempt to explore similar themes (most interestingly, many of Stanley Kubrick's films), often going for the opposite approach - startling an audience with intensity and violence: the heavy-handed brutality of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (the most brilliant example of shock tactics used effectively, though lacking the subtlety that makes other Kubrick films stronger), or Larry Clark's far more exploitative and dull KIDS (a genuinely sloppy and anticlimactic film which seems to exist mainly to give a sheltered audience a few 'shocking' cheap thrills to get off on, offering few insights that hadn't already been offered elsewhere). ELEPHANT stuns primarily by taking the opposite route - languid and poetic - which ultimately makes it all the more powerful.


109 of 210 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 694 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed