Movie Review: Elephant (2003)


Tragedies happen all the time, whether they are big or small. It could be something like your goldfish dying or something as big as mass murder. While the first one might be very tragic to some people (particularly little kids), it is something that is easy to face and understand. The latter one however is something that will always be a riddle to me and society. How could anyone go ahead and do something like that and be completely emotionless about it? Well, that is something that we’ll never properly find out. Today we are taking a look at a movie that has something to do with it.

Boys and girls…”Elephant”.

It’s a day like any other in the fictional Watt High School in Portland, Oregon. Students are studying, jocks are being assholes and the bitchy girls are being…you get it. Everything is like it usually is. We get to follow a bunch of students and their views of different parts during the day. For example, one scene you might see it from the perspective of the chracter John (John Robinson), and then you might see the very same scene from the perspective of his pal Eli (Elias McConnell). And while it is all fine and dandy at the school, something far worse is being planned in the background by two young men. Now…I didn’t give too many details in the story bit, and that is because there are so many things that are too interesting in this story that you need to see for yourself. That is all I have to say.

The characters of “Elephant” are basically your typical High school students. And I don’t mean that in the sense that they are like in every High school comedy ever…because they’re not. All characters are portrayed very realistically and therefore are incredibly interesting to watch. They are not these stereotypical stereotypes that you usually see in movies. they are basically actual people/students/youths. And I am very pleased with that considering none of these actors had anything major in their resumé up until this. Their performances are excellent.

The music is almost non-existent. Not to say there is no music at all, ’cause there is some…keyword here is “some”. There is not so much music here mostly to build atmosphere and set up everything…and I love that. When it comes to movies it is not all about WHAT music you have but rather WHEN and WHERE to use music. Often using no music makes scenes a little more “real” in a sense. Although the music they do use in the movie is reallt good. I mean, how can they go wrong when one of the songs they use is the classic “Für Elise” by Ludwig van Beethoven.

Now for my “general stuff” section I basically only have one thing to mention. If you watch this movie you will notice that it takes a handful of inspirations from The Columbine High school massacre…and that might anger some people considering it is one of the most tragic events in recent history. But this movie is not here to justify the shooting, it is not even 100% about that time…it is just taking it for some inspiration. And I know I might make it sound like I am trying to make it all light-hearted, but I’m not. I am just saying it is not about the Columbine shooting. And it doesn’t try to glorify this type of shit, it’s not action…it is drama, god damn it! IT is not overblown, it is realistic!

Reception for “Elephant” as far as my research can find was not too shabby. Rotten Tomatoes got a 72% positive rating. Metacritic has 70/100 as score on this movie. And while I couldn’t find any perfect quote for this by Mr. Roger Ebert, I can at least tell you he gave this movie 4/4 stars. has the score of 7,2/10 on this movie.

“Elephant” is a movie that is dark, realistic and overall great. It always keeps me on edge, is filmed in a very unique way and has some great performances up its sleeve. I am giving this movie my personal rating of 9,67/10 and the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”
This movie is not to be missed. I highly recommend it if you love good movies. And it won’t take up as much of your time as most of these Hollywood blockbusters…I mean it is only 88 minutes long.

Review of “Elephant” is now done.

I think this is one of the few movies that show Gus Van Sant still got it in him.

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