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Elephant (2003)

2:06 | Trailer
Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.


Gus Van Sant


Gus Van Sant
4,786 ( 322)
8 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »





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)
Learn more

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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


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


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 »

Did You Know?


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


The shirt that Nate is wearing when he is shot is not the shirt he is wearing when the GSA is having a discussion. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in From Gerry to Elephant (2004) See more »


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 »

User Reviews

A big two fingers to American society. No wounder the French loved it.
14 August 2004 | by daphreekSee all my reviews

This film was directed with the objective of being artistic. As with most art the impression relies on the audience. Usually the impression is not what the artist (director) intended.

The film is set in a school, where something bad is about to happen. Most of the time is spent developing the characters.

The killers are two teenage boys, They watch Hitler on TV – this is either because they like the violence or it is there to strengthen their appearance as outcasts and people you shouldn't like..

One plays the piano. Very well in fact. Not sure why this is important, other than showing he is talented and there is probably more to him than meets the eye. Or maybe we are not supposed to understand him, creating a charactered few people will relate to, giving an air of mysteriousness.

They play Violent video games. Looks to me like the director/writer is aiming to strengthen the urban legend that violent media makes you kill people.... ironically as this flick portrays a very violent situation with no explanation, meaning and few consequences.

The twist.. they are gay.. or curious... and virgins. I really don't understand the point of this scene, other than the director wants to inflict naked teenage boys, kissing in the shower on the audience. .... nobody wants to see that. Even teenage girls don't want to see that. It wasn't even subtle suggestion, in fact far from it, I cant see any reason why it was included.

Where o where can school children mail order automatic weapons? (AK47 ?) And then proceed to fire them in the garage..

The film portrays social outcasts as being weird. With no actual benefit to the 'story'. We learn that Michelle is a troubled introvert, who is bullied and obviously has a few issues. She is one of the few characters that we learn about, but she has no importance in the 'plot', she is simply cannon fodder with very little dialogue. Perhaps this implies that outcasts are unnecessary and have no importance in this twisted reality.

The teenage girls are bulimic. Not sure what the point of this is.. could be belittling them, so young girls don't strive to be like them... or maybe its just bad dark humour.

There is a very anti American overtone. We are shown people running around like sheep, nearly no one screaming or shouting. The principal begs for his life showing not a glimmer of control or assertiveness, which i find especially strange as his killer explains to him he's an ass hole ... this would imply he delivers strict discipline. In this scene the dialogue is extraordinarily bad, almost comical as the killer curses, bitch!

The overall film is unrealistic to say the least. The killers are seen carrying very large automatic weapons an wearing combat coloured clothes by a number of people including the school janitor. Yet no one does anything remotely helpful. Also everyone heard shots, lets face it those guns aren't going to be quiet.. yet no one was remotely bothered until they were clearly about to die. Even yellow shirt boy is more interested in where his dad has been. Does this imply stupid Americans or unrealistic direction?

Benny... Ah yes the obligatory 'hard' yank, desperate to save the day. As he helps a startled girl out of the window (that she was standing next to) and struts up behind a guy with a very large gun I was almost wondering if he would in fact improve the situation in true unbelievable American cinematic style, overthrowing his white oppressors in a fit of controlled violence.. no.. of course not. For me this was the only part of the film that boarded on humour.

The loving couple. The American idols. We learn a little about these two, he is very popular, she may be pregnant, the other girls are envious. We (or maybe just the western society) are certainly are supposed to feel compassion for them. This is difficult however when the script is soooo bad.

The cinematic time shifting was good. As every time restart heightens the tension. We know something is going to happen.. it has to.. but when.. This is a technique that been used a lot in recent years and has been used effectively to grab and keep attention. Telling the story in parts so that it can be mulled after the film has finished only really making sense once you have pieced it all together yourself. In this case the style was done a great injustice, used for effect only. because everyone else is using it.

Another unusual technique was using extra extra long shots. Following characters around in long continuous shots. This was a risk that did in fact pay off, just, it made the film stand out, made the time shifting more obvious and added to the artistic flavour. Unfortunately the acting sucked, which spoiled it.

The name titles were simply ripped off from other movies. Introducing the characters one by one, displaying there names on the screen. However it did help t break up the time segments. Perhaps this was the only reason for them.

There were times were i saw a glimmer of style, that was immediately spoiled by bad acting and even worse dialogue. bitch!

The director is out of touch with reality. He has encouraged 'it sucked!' and 'what was that all about' reviews by explaining nothing and leaving all details open to discussion in true artistic fashion. unfortunately most viewers want it spelled out for them.. sorry.

A boring, yet tension building cinematic masturbation, ending with an anti climax, a waist of my time designed to spawn discussion that i ironically felt compelled to write about. My score 0/10

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English | German

Release Date:

14 November 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Elephant See more »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$93,356, 26 October 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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