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Elephant (2003)

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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
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Popularity
3,860 ( 251)
8 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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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)
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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 »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

14 November 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Elefante See more »

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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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Despite what many critics and analysts have suggested since its release, the final film was not intended to be a pseudo-documentary about the Columbine massacre. While there's no doubt that the film was inspired by the tragedy, director Gus Van Sant meant for the film to be more of a reflection on the nature of violence and the effects of indifference. There's also a rumor that Van Sant's original intent was to make a TV film based on factual accounts of Columbine, but this rumor has remained unfounded. The film's minimalist approach, improvisational style and use of non-actors has helped to fuel these rumors over the years. See more »

Goofs

When the three girls are getting their trays in the cafeteria, there is a male student standing to the left. The microphone pole casts a shadow on the back of his neck. 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

Follows Gerry (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Walk Through Resonant Landscape #2
Written and Performed by Frances White
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User Reviews

Making a vacuum out of a tragedy
10 February 2004 | by adamk-2See all my reviews

Imagine it: A horrific tragedy has taken place in a local school, the violence and inexplicability of which has stunned everyone who has heard of it. A meeting is announced that will address the issues that such an event has raised. At the meeting, the main speaker takes the floor, stares at his audience for a few long seconds, then shrugs his shoulders and mumbles "S**t happens". What? You ask. That's it? "Well," he says, "you can't expect me to provide YOU with the answers. But I did take some nice photos".

That's "Elephant".

It would be hard to tackle such a topic without sinking into "Movie of the Week" territory, so Van Sant avoids this by sitting down and not doing much of anything. But artfully.

Why was this film made? What does it tell us about the events? That they happened. What does he tell us about the victims? Nothing, absolutely nothing. We follow them around, interminably (I feel I knew the backs of their heads intimately, if nothing else) and it's a lot like reality tv -- dull: uninvolving, unrevealing and uneventful. What does it tell us about the perpetrators? Nothing we don't already know, haven't already read. Insights? None. It exists in its own universe, blank and unfeeling, a perfect circle, Art for Art's sake.

As far as it goes, there are some beautiful touches, here -- the overlapping time frames, the slowing down of the action to signify a small, private, joyful moment -- but Van Sant bottles out on taking them anywhere, afraid as he seems to be of taking a stand, making a statement or engaging, emotionally, in any way with anything here.

All in all, an Artsy and pointless exercise in navel-gazing, one that masquerades as something much deeper, and hopes its own silence and blankness will be taken for wisdom.


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