Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Minor lesbian content
Short Take: A story reminiscent of the Columbine High School incident. The camera stops in for a meeting of the Gay Straight Alliance of students.
Alternate Titles:
Year: 2003
Duration: 81 min
Language: USA/English
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Gus Van Sant
Writer: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson

Elephant Trailer

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ElephantWriter/director Gus Van Sant (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues) received the Best Director Award at Cannes in 2003 for Elephant. It seems like a normal day. High school students take photographs for a portfolio, play football, ask questions in class or arrive late for school. The normalness of it all, as the camera follows the character central to the specific shot through the school, is enough to make you nervous. Just what is going to happen here?

The camera stops in for a meeting of the Gay Straight Alliance with students discussing how you can tell someone is gay if you see that person on the street. They touch on the topic of the genetics of homosexuality. Normal gay and lesbian kids (one of whom later dies).

At some point John (John Robinson) runs into Eric (Eric Deulen) and Alex (Alex Frost) walking into school wearing fatigues and weighed down by heavy duffle bags. They tell him to leave and don’t come back. Shifting back in time, we see one of them being picked on by other students, and they play a violent, realistic video game involving shooting people with a gun.

Finally, what transpires in the rest of the film is reminiscent of the Columbine incident. Eric and Alex go on a killing spree for no particular reason. We see them calmly plan explosions to flush students out so that they can be easily picked off with guns. There’s nothing to explain why today, why these people, why some are coolly murdered and others aren’t in the line of fire … senselessly.

Very disturbing and innovative film. Amazing camera work. (AB)