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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, despite what others think
This is a great movie. It's not about what happens at the end, it's about the lives of high school students, and the things they go throgh everyday. If you buy this expecting an action movie, that's not what you are going to get. It's a very chilling look into an "ordinary" school.
Published on May 19 2006

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars I didn't like this film. I wanted to care. And I didn't.
Written and directed by Gus Van Sant, this film is about a massacre at a high school. The film is stark, and rather boring, showing the viewers a very ordinary day at the school. There are long shots of the students walking down corridors. There are glimpse of characters and incidents that seem to be leading somewhere but do not. There are unexplained details and one...
Published on July 2 2004 by Linda Linguvic


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, despite what others think, May 19 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
This is a great movie. It's not about what happens at the end, it's about the lives of high school students, and the things they go throgh everyday. If you buy this expecting an action movie, that's not what you are going to get. It's a very chilling look into an "ordinary" school.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Day In The Life, July 1 2004
By 
Martin A Hogan "Marty From SF" (San Francisco Bay Area) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
Director Gus Van Sant's film is hypnotizing and disturbing. Filmed in a documentary style, the camera follows several students through one fateful day - one student at a time. The premise is reminiscent of any American High School. There are the jocks, the cheerleaders, the bookworms, the slackers, and the everyday kids. Van Sant has a clever technique where he is able to follow (stalk) each student as they walk down the hallways and pass from one to another as they go through their daytime routine. We also see the killers in preparation for the possible murders to follow. Everything is paced in a real time mode with no hurrying or jumpy editing. The viewer becomes an observer and a participant, watching normal activities slowly unfold to an almost ordinary conclusion - except that it is not. The false tranquility that the film possesses masks the unhappy insidiousness of these ordinary students lives. These kids could be your fellow classmates and that is one of the most powerful points of this film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful, July 11 2004
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
This is more a 4.5, but we'll round up. It deserves such a high rating because it really portrays everyday life at highschool. Some call it 'boring', but that's just how day-to-day things go. I thought some scenes were a tad stretched out, and some not stretched out enough- my favorite it the scene where Alex is playing the piano. Anyway, I'll caution some, don't watch it if you're looking for a great Hollywood action film. Do watch it if you're looking for an atistic movie that will make you think.
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5.0 out of 5 stars ART, July 11 2004
By 
C. Kim "smarty pants" (nyc) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
although slow at times, this movie is really moving, i rented it after hearing about the movie, and im really glad i chose to see it and iam going to purchase it very soon,the camera work is something beautiful, a true piece of art, very haunting and real, gus van sant has accomplished a masterpeice and i highly reccomend it
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5.0 out of 5 stars beautiful filmmaking, chilling subject matter, July 8 2004
By 
audrey (white mtns) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
Gus Van Sant has created a wonderful and disturbing film, creatively using long tracking shots that move from character to character and double-back in time, until we gradually view this high school as a fabric of kids and teachers each going about in their isolated but intimately linked day. It takes a little while to figure out who the shooters will be, and even then we don't get much insight into their motives, but from a dispassionate camera that's okay. I found that, even knowing what was coming up, the emotional impact of the carnage was not diminished, and by "carnage" I don't mean that this was gory or sensationalistic - just devastating.
Gus Van Sant wrote and directed and Diane Keaton executive produced this sobering look at an American high school, and it is worth seeing.
The film can be seen in wide- or fullscreen format and heard or subtitled in English, French or Spanish.
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1.0 out of 5 stars I'm so glad I rented this garbage instead of buying it, July 7 2004
By 
Brian McCombs (Springfield Ohio) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
I rented this movie after hearing how good it was. I want the 80 minutes of my life I wasted watching this crappy movie back. Boring and slow paced. I understand the movie and I've learned not to waste my time watching a film in this style ever again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond thought-provoking, July 6 2004
By 
"free_freedom" (Minnetonka, MN United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
My initial reaction to Elephant was disappointment. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how involved I had become in the movie. Though there is very little dialogue, and scenes glide effortlessly through long unedited shots, I felt as if I was a student at this high school. The 81 minute movie spends about 70 of those introducing the characters through their interactions with each other and the school. By the time the climax is reached, I genuinely felt a loss within myself. I found that my heart was racing, even as the film smoothly and slowly moved through the final moments.
I think that some people will come away from this movie feeling like too much of the story was left untold. I would tend to agree with that. Some characters are underdeveloped, but the emphasis on the film isn't necessarily to understand each individual, but to realize that they all represent a different type of student at any given high school. I'm sure we can all relate to at least one of them.
I was very impressed with the high school kids who were cast to act in the movie. You won't recognize a single name on the list, save Gus Van Sant. They all sold their parts well, especially considering their previous acting experience.
If you are looking for a movie that will be action packed and fast paced, this may not be the one for you. However, if you appreciate film as an art, you will not be disappointed with Elephant. It left me thinking about it long after I had turned it off.
PS - The extras on the DVD are pretty minimal, for those people who are into that. There is a pretty lame behind the scenes piece that lasts about 8 minutes, a theatrical trailer, and a trailer for HBO Films. Nothing else. I would have liked to see a little bit more about the cast and development of the story. Extra features don't really matter to me too much, though. I grew up with VHS.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Ugly life., July 2 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
If there's any central premise at the core of this powerful, ugly movie, it's that some events defy any attempt at explanation. You can talk all you want to about the lack of a story, but that misses the mark. This wasn't CONCERNED with story, this was concerned with showing a slice of life drawn from events that have entered the collective American conscience and assuming that we, the audience, have the stomach to watch it unfold. Everyone's going to draw their own conclusions, anyway, just as they did from the real-life events at Columbine.
Very well done and very powerful. I never want to see it again.
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3.0 out of 5 stars I didn't like this film. I wanted to care. And I didn't., July 2 2004
By 
Linda Linguvic (New York City) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
Written and directed by Gus Van Sant, this film is about a massacre at a high school. The film is stark, and rather boring, showing the viewers a very ordinary day at the school. There are long shots of the students walking down corridors. There are glimpse of characters and incidents that seem to be leading somewhere but do not. There are unexplained details and one particular scene that is shown over and over again from different perspectives.

There is no real hint of what is coming but the audience is prepared. After all, we all know about Columbine. Mostly, I was wondering when it would happen. And it did. Violently.

Purposely, there were no explanations and I understand this was the filmmaker's intent. And so I never got to know any of the characters. I therefore couldn't identify with them or emphasize when they were so suddenly struck down. There was also no dramatic background of the two boys who did the killing. No excuses. No real history. Just the pure violent act.
The acting and directing were good. But that wasn't enough for me.
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3.0 out of 5 stars like, dude, where are you going with those guns?, July 1 2004
This review is from: Elephant (DVD)
While a bit wary of films that cover topical subjects like Columbine so soon afterwards, I was sufficiently intrigued by the trailer to seek this out on video.
"Disturbing" says the box. I'm not really one to believe the blurb on video boxes since being stung once too often by videos that proclaim they are 'Hilarious', but i was a bit more inclined to believe this one.
Intro out of the way, where to start? For me the most impressive thing about this film is the direction and visual style. Such examples as a scene in the school office where you are permitted to hear one sentance from various conversations without hearing the whole of any effectively demonstrate that the substance of these exchanges was not what was important, but rather the overall impression of the day to day goings on.
That was a recurrent kind of aesthetic within the film. The long passages where a character is followed around the school are not really important in terms of plot, and what happens when they reach their destination is not the point. It is clear that these sections are intended to show the variety of people within the school (over the subject's shoulder), to demonstrate the potential scope of the event you know is going to happen. Unfortunately these sections grow tiresome after a while.
This is also the purpose in focussing on several characters, and showing how their lives overlap throughout the day by the use of staggered timelines.
Tension is created and maintained effectively also through the non-linear passage of time, since the viewer is made aware of what is going to happen, and allowed to feel it may be right around the corner only to find that they are transferred to another part of the school at another time.
As the story progresses and we get to know a little of the boys who perpetrate the crime, we are allowed to see how they are able to order assault rifles off the internet and meticulously plan their raid but with no explanation of their reasons for doing so. Though again, the reasons are not the focus. It is the same with all characters; we're allowed close enough to have some level of understanding of them and to feel an empathy with them, but no specific information is given, or indeed needed.It is the focus on the minutiae of the characters daily lives (such as the extended segment of a boy developing some photogaphs, or the geeky girl getting changed) that gives the viewer this effect.
I did enjoy the way the film was made, and the way the story was told, but ultimately I ended up disappointed. It seems to move along at the same pace with the same level of tension throughout, and then just... ends... in the middle of the attack (or perhaps towards the end). It just seems a little lazy to get so far and then offer no denouement. It left me and my girlfriend saying, "what?... is that it?"
Other problems were that there was no real panic once the attack started. After hearing the footage from Columbine in Michael Moore's film, I expected a little screaming, maybe some people running in blind panic... but none.
And the lad who passes the killers as they enter the school: rather than raise the alarm, call the cops or whatever he just trots around telling the small amount of people who aren't already inside, "Could you not go in there? Please?"
Except the lack of an ending, these other defects are unimportant generally, since the overall atmosphere of the film is what really counts, and that keeps the viewer riveted.
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Elephant
Elephant by Gus Van Sant (DVD - 2004)
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