ELEPHANT

Content -3
Quality
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Language        
Violence        
Sex        
Nudity        

Release Date: October 24, 2003

Starring: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John
Robinson, Elias McConnell,
Timothy Bottoms, Kristen
Hicks, Carrie Finklea, Nicole
George, Brittany Mountain, and
Jordan Taylor

Genre: Drama

Audience: Older teenagers and
adults REVIEWER: Dr. Tom
Snyder ELEPHANT, the winner at
the 2003 Cannes Film Festival,
is an experimental movie based
on the school shootings at
Columbine High School in
Littleton, Colo., which left
13 students murdered and
several wounded. It’s a day
in the life movie that follows
many of the victims around the
school before the shooting and
the two murderers as they kill
time in one’s house before
they carry out their deadly
plan. The movie stars actual
students from Portland, Ore.
It mostly shows the student
victims walking around the
halls, eating lunch, dealing
with an alcoholic father,
attending a discussion class,
doing work at the photography
lab, shelving books at the
library, playing tag football,
and talking to one another.
The murderers are shown
playing a violent video game,
playing Beethoven on the
piano, watching a history show
about Adolph Hitler on TV,
firing their new gun, and
kissing in the
shower. ELEPHANT offers no
solid answers as to why the
murders took place, though it
suggests that violent video
games, media violence,
parental neglect, and sexual
repression may each have
played a role. The movie is
bookended by shots of clouds
rolling by in the sky,
suggesting that nature is
oblivious to humanity and its
issues. This seems to be a
relatively humanist, heartless
way of looking at human life
and teenage violence. A few
pundits have suggested that
ELEPHANT’s writer/director
Gus Van Sant has made a
pointless, aggravating movie
that adds nothing to the
school-shooting phenomenon
that plagued the U.S. a couple
years ago. Most, however, have
found the movie a harrowing
experience that, in their
minds, wisely tells viewers to
avoid easy answers, including
“easy” solutions, such as
cutting down or eliminating
video game violence. Letting
viewers make up their own
minds about events is, indeed,
a valid approach for a
filmmaker. Most of the
activities the student victims
do before the shootings,
however, are rather aimless,
just as aimless as the way in
which the murderers pick out
their targets. This also
indicates a humanist
worldview. ELEPHANT contains,
however, one short scene of a
science teacher in his class,
and there are shots of another
class talking about whether
you can tell if someone is
homosexual or not, just by the
way they act and dress. The
camera also follows one
student working on his school
photography to build his
professional portfolio. In
another subplot, a student,
John, is shown coping with his
drunken father as they drive
to school. John leaves his
father in the car, to be
picked up later by his
brother, and drops the car
keys at the principal’s
office for his mom to pick up.
Afterwards, when John and his
father meet outside the school
while the murderers kill their
victims inside, there is a
palpable, though understated,
sense of relief in both John
and his father as they find
out that each other is
unharmed. Thus, there seems to
be little real academic
activity occurring at this
school. The audience doesn’t
know if Van Sant simply finds
such activity uninteresting or
if he is actually making a
comment on the aimless quality
of so many public high schools
in America. Either way,
ELEPHANT is so bereft of
perspective that it ultimately
does come across as a somewhat
pointless exercise. The
killers come off as the most
strongly developed characters,
and the homosexual references
seem to be the most gratuitous
elements of all. At least, the
movie doesn’t
over-sensationalize its
violent topic, though the
issue is sensational
enough. Please address your
comments to: Mark Ordesky,
President Fine Line
Features Robert Shaye and
Michael
Lynne Co-Chairman/Co-CEO New
Line Cinema 116 North
Robertson Blvd. Suite 200 Los
Angeles, CA 90048 Phone: (310)
854-5811 Fax: (310)
854-1453 Web Page: www.flf.com

Rating: R

Runtime: 81 minutes

Distributor: Fine Line Features

Director: Gus Van Sant

Executive Producer:

Producer: Dany Wolf EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS:
Diane Keaton and Bill Robinson

Writer: Gus Van Sant

Address Comments To:

Content:

(H, HoHo, PC, LLL, VVV, SS, N, AA, DD, M) Humanist postmodern worldview about students being gunned down by two of their peers, with strong homosexual content includes students discuss in class whether you can tell if someone is homosexual and two male students kiss in the shower, and possible politically correct viewpoint about homosexuality; at least 25 obscenities, including many “f” words, four light profanities, obscene gesture, and sounds of girls forcing themselves to vomit after eating salads; some bloody, very intense and disturbing violence includes teenage boy calmly plays violent video game shooting people (some in the back), teenage boys shoot fellow students at point blank range, blood splatters library books, blood smears on school floor, student shoots teacher in the back, teenage boys fire new automatic weapon into woodpile; teenage boys kiss in shower; rear female nudity of girl in gym showers in long shot and teenage boys shown naked from waste up as they kiss in private shower; teenage boy stops drunken father from driving; cafeteria employees smoke marijuana; and, deceit and teenager thinks killing people in real life is fun and humorous.

GENRE: Drama

H

HoHo

PC

LLL

VVV

SS

N

AA

DD

M

Summary:

ELEPHANT, the winner at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, is an experimental movie based on the deadly school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. Despite some captivating moments, ELEPHANT ultimately comes across as a pointless, aimless exercise, because it declines to take a strong stand on anything.

Review:

ELEPHANT, the winner at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, is an experimental movie based on the school shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., which left 13 students murdered and several wounded. It’s a day in the life movie that follows many of the victims around the school before the shooting and the two murderers as they kill time in one’s house before they carry out their deadly plan. The movie stars actual students from Portland, Ore. It mostly shows the student victims walking around the halls, eating lunch, dealing with an alcoholic father, attending a discussion class, doing work at the photography lab, shelving books at the library, playing tag football, and talking to one another. The murderers are shown playing a violent video game, playing Beethoven on the piano, watching a history show about Adolph Hitler on TV, firing their new gun, and kissing in the shower.

ELEPHANT offers no solid answers as to why the murders took place, though it suggests that violent video games, media violence, parental neglect, and sexual repression may each have played a role. The movie is bookended by shots of clouds rolling by in the sky, suggesting that nature is oblivious to humanity and its issues. This seems to be a relatively humanist, heartless way of looking at human life and teenage violence.

A few pundits have suggested that ELEPHANT’s writer/director Gus Van Sant has made a pointless, aggravating movie that adds nothing to the school-shooting phenomenon that plagued the U.S. a couple years ago. Most, however, have found the movie a harrowing experience that, in their minds, wisely tells viewers to avoid easy answers, including “easy” solutions, such as cutting down or eliminating video game violence.

Letting viewers make up their own minds about events is, indeed, a valid approach for a filmmaker. Most of the activities the student victims do before the shootings, however, are rather aimless, just as aimless as the way in which the murderers pick out their targets. This also indicates a humanist worldview.

ELEPHANT contains, however, one short scene of a science teacher in his class, and there are shots of another class talking about whether you can tell if someone is homosexual or not, just by the way they act and dress. The camera also follows one student working on his school photography to build his professional portfolio. In another subplot, a student, John, is shown coping with his drunken father as they drive to school. John leaves his father in the car, to be picked up later by his brother, and drops the car keys at the principal’s office for his mom to pick up. Afterwards, when John and his father meet outside the school while the murderers kill their victims inside, there is a palpable, though understated, sense of relief in both John and his father as they find out that each other is unharmed.

Thus, there seems to be little real academic activity occurring at this school. The audience doesn’t know if Van Sant simply finds such activity uninteresting or if he is actually making a comment on the aimless quality of so many public high schools in America. Either way, ELEPHANT is so bereft of perspective that it ultimately does come across as a somewhat pointless exercise. The killers come off as the most strongly developed characters, and the homosexual references seem to be the most gratuitous elements of all. At least, the movie doesn’t over-sensationalize its violent topic, though the issue is sensational enough.

Please address your comments to:

Mark Ordesky, President

Fine Line Features

Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne

Co-Chairman/Co-CEO

New Line Cinema

116 North Robertson Blvd.

Suite 200

Los Angeles, CA 90048

Phone: (310) 854-5811

Fax: (310) 854-1453

Web Page: www.flf.com

SUMMARY: ELEPHANT, the winner at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, is an experimental movie based on the deadly school shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado. Despite some captivating moments, ELEPHANT ultimately comes across as a pointless, aimless exercise, because it declines to take a strong stand on anything.

In Brief: