14 user 55 critic

An Elephant Sitting Still (2018)

Da xiang xi di er zuo (original title)
2:20 | Trailer
Four people in a Chinese city live through a complicated day as their lives intersect.


Bo Hu (as Qian Hu)


Bo Hu
4,650 ( 189)
13 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »



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Credited cast:
Yu Zhang Yu Zhang ... Yu Cheng
Yuchang Peng ... Wei Bu
Uvin Wang ... Huang Ling (as Wang Yuwen)
Congxi Li Congxi Li ... Wang Jin
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Xiang Rong Dong Xiang Rong Dong ... Dean
Jing Guo Jing Guo ... Dean's wife
Zhao-Yan Guo-Zhang Zhao-Yan Guo-Zhang ... Bu's father (as Guozhang ZhaoYan)
Miaomiao He Miaomiao He ... Cheng's friend's Mother
Ximan Huang Ximan Huang ... White dog's female owner
Wei Kong Wei Kong ... Jin's son-in-law
Yixin Kong Yixin Kong ... Jin's granddaughter
Binyuan Li Binyuan Li ... Scapler
Danyi Li Danyi Li ... Jin's daughter
Qing LI Qing LI ... White dog's male owner
Suyun Li Suyun Li ... Bu's mother


In the northern Chinese city of Manzhouli, they say there is an elephant that simply sits and ignores the world. Manzhouli becomes an obsession for the protagonists of this film, a longed-for escape from the downward spiral in which they find themselves. Among them is schoolboy Bu, on the run after pushing Shuai down the stairs, who was bullying him previously. Bu's classmate Ling has run away from her mother and fallen for the charms of her teacher. Shuai's older brother Cheng feels responsible for the suicide of a friend. And finally, along with many other characters whose fates are inextricably bound together, there's Mr. Wang, a sprightly pensioner whose son wants to offload him onto a home. In virtuoso visual compositions, the film tells the story of one single suspenseful day from dawn to dusk, when the train to Manzhouli is set to depart.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

8 March 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

An Elephant Sitting Still See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

$32,556, 28 March 2019
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Dongchun Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital (5.1 Digital)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


After finishing the movie, Hu Bo tragically committed suicide in October 2017 at the age of 29. This makes "An Elephant Sitting Still" the only feature film he directed in his lifetime. See more »


When Wang Jin packed up his stuffs and walked into the living room from the balcony, the shadow of the camera appeared at the bottom of the screen. See more »


[first lines]
Yu Cheng: He told me the other day. There is an elephant in Manzhouli. It sits there all day long. Perhaps some people keep stabbing it with forks. Or maybe it just enjoys sitting there. I don't know.
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User Reviews

Honest and true cinema
3 May 2019 | by nikxatzSee all my reviews

"An Elephant Sitting Still" is a Chinese film crafted by Bo Hu, a new and impressively clever director, which chose to leave our dark and lonely world. And after watching his 4 hour film, which focus on one intense day in the lives of 4 individuals, who are living in a "wasteland" where crime and sadness and a constant dimness have the upper hand and they are searching for a way to escape from their troubles and the noises and the past. But will things change if we just go to another place or will confusion and lonelyness and animosity keep to exist in every step we make?

This film is astounding for many reasons. Firstly, despite its huge runtime of 230 minutes, the film is never of zero interest and has a immersive tone that lets you to grow with the characters and feel their emotions. The first hour may feel kind of slow beacause we do not get a lot of interactions and we basically meet our characters, their tragic lives and their hideous world they are struggling to live in. But, after they interact with each other and their stories crush onto one another, the film beacomes a true tour de force but it still remains delicate and quiet.

Also, the way the creator has built this enviroment is stylisticly satisfying and meanwhile it works well for the movies theme and for the characters. We are introduced to a dull, meaningless and dangerous pile of houses and desperate souls. We barely see a glanse of colour. Everything is grey, lifeless, moody and light only enters the frame from small windows or from cloudy skies. You probably thinking that this film is the most pessimistic thing on earth, but as it turns out, it isn't. Hu Bo is trying to be realistic and not a pessimist. Showing a dark dark world does not mean you are a pessimist, but instead it is a statement of how lowwe have fallen and of the tragedy of it all. It is what it is. The world is cruel and blunt, a bunch of kids bulling another one, students posting mean twits for a girl, an old man looking out of the window, a broken couple walking inside a train-tunnel. All of this helps us get into the characters emotions and understand them.

The acting is superb. Every actor feels like a real person.The characters are human and they are striking for salvation, but do not accept that these are their lives and they have to move on with reality even if it is bad. Each one of them is trappedi in their own heads. A man of guilt searching for forgiveness and love. A teenager trying to deal with an incient which brings danger to his life. A girl wanting to find a place to feel happy, but when she does everybody is judjing her. An elder man suffering from loss and trying to copmerhend that he is aging and decay, like all of us. In their eyes we see the same pain, the same sadness and the same grand desire of a better life, another situation, a small place to forget and rest, an elephant sitting still. They talk and play and observe and ache and get hurt and laugh and there is a beauty and intrigue to their lives.

The soundtrack is really one of a kind. At first, I really did not get it and it sounded really "off", but soon I started to understand it's purpose and I can actually say that it is a really distinct music and whenever I connect it to the film. The band is actualy is called Hualun and I heard some of other tracks and theyare actually pretty good.

And funally, the one and only reason why this film is so signicant in the world of art and also the reason to why I wrote this review is the fact that this film- is deeply honest. For me, honesty is the key to an enjoyable and meaningful film. Nowadays, every film feels like the same, uninteresting and repetative selling product. Every production company adds something for the fans to "Marvel" at, we get millions of toys and marchendise of dolls and clothes and they get more than a billion of money... but where is the soul, the authenticityc of the creators? To me , when I see a film want to "meet" the person behind it and take a look at his emotions and thoughts. The director must BE the film and the film MUST be the director. Cinema is made for people who want to speak, but use their films and not words, in order to express themselves. Hu Bo isa true director and artist and human.

He was a man who felt that the truly precious tihng are hidden in the cracks of the world and emphasizes that thisi is not pesimistic and if people leave their texts and fake happy realities behind and understand this, they may feel awe in front of the principles that define life.

He managed to use his experiences and create a story which purely portrays his inner self. It is like we met him and then he left. I have seen a lot of movies and only two directors have proven that they can make a film which shows their inner nature. The one is Charlie Kaufman, one of the best flmmakers working today, known for his work in "Synedoche, New Work" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", two of my favourite films. He once said that he feels sad because most directors do the smae job with politicans, trying to sell their works with saying and compaigns and they become pretenders and their films feel like a bunch of nothing. He is a filmmaking genius and you better check all of the iflms he had written and directed. The other one is Hu Bo. He is true and honest.

He is an ARTIST and he made a unique trumph for every person who walks on this world. It is beautiful and dark and sad and strange and complex and emotional and raw and honest and...

Thank you, Hu Bo.

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