Gus Van Sant's movie follows kids in a high school over the course of a day when inevitably a school shooting occurs (restricted to the final 30 minutes of this relatively brief film). The camera glides behind students (or sometimes in front of them), tracing their movements through the school, with particular kids in focus. We see the same events repeated from more than one perspective. The sound design offers occasional rumbles (later attributed to Acid Mothers Temple) and we see shots of clouds (occasionally stormy) intercut. The effect is dreamy. For many later commentators on the causes of the shooting, the "elephant" in the room is kids' need to be accepted and the violation of this by bullying and ostracism from peers. Van Sant shows the hostile reactions of the rejected school shooters, but also bulimic symptoms in three popular girls which may also be a reaction to feared rejection. But other kids do not respond as poorly -- gay students find social support in a gay-straight alliance group and the nerdy girl suffers but does not become a killer. The student with the "bad" (drunk) parent is a red herring -- he is sad but coping. The killers play violent video games and look at gun websites. Clearly, Van Sant recognises the complexity of the issue and opts for an impressionistic approach, potentially demonstrating the parable of the five blind men grasping the elephant but drawing different conclusions about what they are touching. There may be no single cause of these recurrent tragedies (but some influences may be more amenable to intervention than others).
Very slow paced drama with an enjoyable ending. Don't bother sitting through the first hour, just fast forward to the end.
This movie has a surreal feel to it with slow tracking shots, snippets of conversion, and long silent takes following someone along a corridor. It is set in a US high school and the movie's disconnected style matches the teenagers' view of life. It takes ages to build up but near the end it explodes with drama. It's a weakness that the characters' motives are only partly explained. This is a film with a unique style - not for everyone.
The directorial style (long, long tracking wide-shots) lends an eerie objectivity and enormous tension - after all, who doesn't know where the story is going? That cliche 'the banality of evil' comes to mind.
A snapshot into the realities of high school life. The observances by the director were well shot. Thought provoking. The use of silences adds to the tone of the film. Well cast.
Absolutely the worst movie I have ever sat through. Why - I was waiting for something to happen. Just a waste of film and, more importantly, my time. -5 stars
Annoying: having to fast-forward through the interminable camera-follows-a-person-as-they-walk-through-the-halls scenes, which there were far too many of; the mix-up of timelines; the lack of closure at the end of the film as in - what eventually happened? Who shot the 1st assassin? Great subject; poor depiction.
Really differently done, in a good way. It is slow and surreal. I think it captures perfectly how mundane events can turn so significant, so easily.
Definitely a bit slow-moving overall, maybe on purpose to give the full effect of the contrast between what starts as an ordinary day and what happens that catches everyone unaware. Shocking to think this has happened and will probably happen again in schools/universities.
An objective and almost surreal observation of social constructs within a school environment. Depictions of individuals, situations and events were understated and non sensationalist despite the dramatic event. Slow paced yet engrosing with haunting background soundtrack. An original and inventive peice of film making.
There's slow moving and then there's excruciating. For me the extreme lack of pace only served as a massive distraction, rather than a mechanism for building tension. As much as I wanted to like this movie, I couldn't. Don't quite understand how it was so critically acclaimed.
The worst movie ever!! OMG who makes this rubbish? I Wish there was a no star button
Beautifully shot. Verrry slow moving though and at times a bit tedious. Great camera angles and perspectives on the story over the day and good character portrayals by a handful of actor/students. Only trouble is, it felt like I spent a day watching it!
A very interesting idea for a film. The pacing is quite slow and the film doubles back on itself quite a lot. The performances are great and the execution is quite good. I do wish that it followed the events it was based off of more closely, but besides that Gus Van Sant has given us a very artful film that sadly won't be for everyone.
Worst movie ever. Incredibly slow and boring. Terrible cinematography, horrendous sound. It was like an bad amateur movie.
Movie's can be different and great, but this was poor, indulgent dribble. Bad acting. Absolutely nothing to commend it.
A masterpiece. Both captivating and horrific at the same time. Captivating in its cinematography - you can see each shot has been carefuly and meticulously planned in every detail. Horrific in its so very real depiction of a horrific event (or should that be events?). And the other fascinating element is how the antagonists are portraited. Apart, of course, from their gruseome acts, the film maker does not attempt to villify them. He allows us to access their lives, and lets us be the judge of their motives, as well as their actions. Very powerful stuff.
it takes a while for this film to tell the story of a high school and it's students. The masacre at the end took me by surprise.
As with others, I found this movie extremely slow and wondering why it won awards. I struggled to actually watch the whole thing. I was waiting and waiting for something to actually happen.
I truly moving piece of film. I absolutely loved it. It's true that it isn't a commerically successful and traditional film; but that's exactly why it's so great.
I Really appreciated Elephant, its just another great work by Gus Van Sant
What most people have criticized as the films biggest flaws I think are actually the films greatest assets, Elephant can be slow but it feels like a freight train on a collision course, it begins at a standstill and ever so slowly builds and builds to the climax, at which point the tension becomes almost unbearable. The longs shots, location lighting and the use of more realistic dialogue creates a heightened realism in the film, it’s as if we are actually witnessing real events unfold, which makes the final sequence all the more horrific.
well acted, beautifully presented, great cinema - but just doesn't seem to have any point to it. At least we couldn't find any.
I didn't like or dislike this movie, it actually didn't make any impression on me at all, I very nearly turned it off after the first 15 minutes. It might have won the Palme D'Or but I found it totally boring. If you like a movie that revolves around teenagers walking up and down corridors in a high school for an hour followed by 10 minutes of shooting that was also boring this film's for you. If not give it a miss.
might have won awards, don't know how, this movie was sooooo boring, made me fall asleep, waste of time.
This film was so boring I had to speed it up every time someone was filmed from the back walking around. Even when the shooting started it was boring. This story could have been told in a much better way. A complete waste of time.
Brilliant, enthralling and mesmerising. A beautiful, heartbreaking film about the innocennce, naivety and vulnerability of youth, A companion piece to Mike Moore's, "Bowling for Columbine" but far more affecting. The young actors are incredibly moving as they essentially play them selves, Van Sant is an erratic filmmaker but this is right on target as he takes us into the hearts and minds of ordinary American teenagers . He doesn't try to explain the tragedy, everybody, the misfits and the popular cheerleader types all have their troubles. The only message I can see is, be nice, treat others as you would be treated. If only it could be so.
Worth watching. Slow but interesting take on how to show what happened.
Gus Van Zandt comes across as a creepy old voyeur, which is exactly why this disturbing little piece works so well. The Columbine connection is almost beside the point. You're bound to have a strong opinion on this one, which is more than you can say for most movies.
One of the slowest movies in the history of the world!
To elaborate would be risking giving away the plot to this most unusual film. Featuring a cast of unknown actors
and scarce dialogue it is however visually beautifully photographed and worth the effort for its dramatic conclusion.
This is one for the arthouse fan. A languid retelling of the Columbine shooting that is hypnotic. It does not try to answer why the event took place. Not great but repays attentive viewing.
What an absolute waste of time. Supposed to be as it happened - actually POORLY scripted. A film about teenagers trying to find independence - but actually the script reveals that it is about what somebody else thinks teenagers want and think. Just a total wank!!!
I would highly recommend this film - interesting and a different approach to the usual linear storytelling.
Seriously disturbing, but brilliant. The juxposition of normal small lives made part of horrific world shattering event in modern history.
Very slow to start.
The last 10 minutes or so were worthwhile watching.
A disturbing insight into possibly what happened that day.
The guy in yellow is worthwhile watching too.
This is like living out everyone elsesday in your head when you wish you werent on the bus that day, it is interesting to watch but at each switch of the perspective you feel as if you just woke up from falling asleep from boredom intead of interest in the new characters perspective of the five minutes before the shootings. Its out there and if that is for you, go it in your que.
Disturbing but you have to keep watching.
Poetic visually, Gus Van Saint's view of 'normality' through his surreal lens is meticulous and a highly effective film experience. The USA social culture is highly disturbing. The metaphor 'Elephant' is not easily apparent - gun violence? ...
It's a pretty slow movie. It's pretty disturbing.
I found the whole setting of the school to be very clinical which probably says something about an American culture that can enable what happened at Columbine High, which this is based on. A well crafted film, typical of van zant.
An amazingly-executed juxtaposition between the very ordinary and the very extraordinary.
A "day in the life" retelling of the Columbine High massacre. A bit slow in getting to the "action" but an interesting method of telling the story.
Thank god this movie only goes for 78 mins and that my DVD has a FF button. A very slow movie that I felt really gave no insight into the characters.
Took to long to get anywhere, not interested in watching someones back for a 5 minute walk.......
I hated this movie. I felt like I was watching someone's home movie.
Simply a voyeristic recreation of the Columbine killings. 90min film and apart from the last 10min of killing the rest is pointless filler so that a feature length film about Columbine could be made. The most pointless use of a non-linear storyline to date - eg 3 students passing in a hall is retold from all 3 different perspectives with the obvious outcome... boredom. If you have never been to a "high school" or don't know what "walking around" involves this will be a real eye-opener for you.