Elephant (2003): Yell! Magazine’s Greatest Films Series

Yell! Review:

Gus Van Sant waited four years before showing a movie inspired by the Columbine High School shootings. What makes this movie so great is Van Sant’s decision to film it as though it was a clandestine documentary (as if the cameraman was invisible and able to follow all the students anywhere without being noticed). It makes the film emotionally devastating because it doesn’t judge, it just progresses through the regular and boring days of some high school students until two students enter the school and begin shooting.

Elephant Pic

Van Sant does use some devices to occasionally increase the drama or grab the attention of the viewer and he screws with the time line as his camera follows different students during their day. You follow the camera as it passes through certain time periods but from a different viewpoint as the camera is following a different student. He also leaves the viewer in the dark about the true nature of the film until 20 minutes into the film. He then gives you a clue when you see two boys in full army regalia carrying heavy canvas bags walking toward the entrance of the school. When another student asks what they are doing, he is told to leave and not come back as hell is going down.

Elephant Shooters

Van Sant then returns to the mundane lives of the students, leaving the viewer to wait another 30 minutes before all is revealed at the home of one of the shooters. You are then brought through the whole setup and massacre ending with a freezer scene where, after shooting his comrade-in-arms, the remaining killer points his gun at the main target of his rampage (the cool guy who picked on him) and his girlfriend. The scene fades out as the killer is choosing who to shoot first using the “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” children’s rhyme. The film is a dry, cold, sober look at teen violence that will leave you changed by the experience.

Elephant Trailer:

Elephant Gallery:

Elephant movie poster
Yell! Rating (x/5 Skulls):
Year Released:
3 October 2003 (Italy)
Gus Van Sant
Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Carrie Finklea, Nathan Tyson, Timothy Bottoms, Matt Malloy,
Drama, Crime
Official URL:

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