Monday, August 6, 2007

Elephant...abandoning the ivory tower

Elephant - Gus Van Sant - 2003 - 8/10


Elephant shows a normal day of high school from many different perspectives. We see students going in and out of class, the cafeteria, the gym, the library, the office, and more. The long shots and the unique camera angles combined with the "non actors" (what imdb refers to them as) gives the film a documentary feel. We see boyfriends and girlfriends, cliques, outcasts - everyone as they experience the day - often seeing the same shot from the eyes of those different characters. It keeps building and building, and you start to wonder what Van Sant has in store. Then you remember what you read on imdb - the movie is about a school shooting. And then you begin to fear what is coming.


I thought this movie was really good. At the same time - it's really hard for me to write about the movie. Especially "summarizing" what happened. The movie was only eighty minutes and spends most of its time building characters and showing how ordinary they all. And then when they start dieing, you really care about these characters. I guess my biggest problem is that the shooters - the antagonists - get very little screen time. I won't be one of those people who want to know WHY they started shooting up the school - but I want to be one of those people who pushes for well developed characters all around. What else is there to say about a movie that tells the story of a school shooting? It was well done - excellently shot, and all of the characters are believable. The shooting itself is done right too - Van Sant recreates the fear students would have as two guys walk through the school shooting at anyone that moves. And Van Sant's showing multiple scenes over again from different viewpoints was really intense and lent a lot of depth to the movie.


If you can stomach it, sit down and watch it.

If you liked this movie, see...
...Mean Creek
...Bowling for Columbine

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