Movie Discussion: The Point of “Elephant”

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Hello fellow people on the internet, I’m back! Sorry for the lack of posts lately, my laziness caught up to me. But now I am here and I am ready to get another post out there! So what are we doing today? Well we are here to have a little movie discussion about one of the (in my opinion) most underrated movies ever. A movie that has gotten a lot of mixed reception and has split audiences worldwide… even though it isn’t that well-known. But we are here to discuss it today. Soooo… HERE WE GO!

Just a fair warning; If you have not seen “Elephant” from 2003 directed by Gus Van Sant, I suggest you should leave now as there will be spoilers. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, let’s move on.

Let’s start of with the simple question “Why make a discussion¬†about such an obscure movie?”. Well it all started with me going on to youtube the other day because of me wanting to watch the final scene of the movie after not having seen it in a long time. If you have seen the movie then you know which one I am talking about. If you have not seen the movie then you obviously didn’t read that previous paragraph, spoilers. But if you simply don’t give a shit and don’t want to see a really good movie then here we go. In the final scene of the movie we have the characters of Eric (Eric Duelen) and Alex (Alex Frost) coming to school with a bunch of big duffel bags filled with guns. When they then are inside of the school they pull out all the guns and start shooting up the place. Killing students, teachers and even the principal. Now the reason my watch of that scene led to this post doesn’t come from me simply watching the scene itself. It came from going on to read the comments on the video. And from what I gathered… people don’t seem to get the point of the movie. They only focus on things you focus on in a big budget Hollywood movie. And I will address those points here. Their points are what inspired me to do this. Time to pick up the shit from the street and throw it in the trash.

First up we take the one that the people focused on too much… more than most other points in fact. What I am talking about is the acting. Now to be fair, the acting in the movie isn’t particularly good. I would even say that it is below average, but I got some things to say about that. I did some research about the movie and found out that a lot, if not most of the cast comes from director Gus Van Sant’s hometown of Portland, Oregon where the movie was shot. What he did was pick out some random youths from there to really show off that these people pretty much were students in that school. Hell, they all were pretty much within the right age range to actually be in high school. Unlike 100% of big budget Hollywood movies which use people in their 20’s and 30’s who happen to look kinda young. The point of the movie wasn’t to have Oscar-worthy performances but to give us genuine people. Acting isn’t everything, guys.

Next up we have something that I can agree is a tad bit strange; When Alex and Eric are going around shooting people, and gunshots can be heard by those who haven’t been killed yet, they don’t know how to react. And that is the key phrase in all of this, “They don’t know how to react”. This is a school filled with students and teachers who have never experienced something like this before. They have never had their school shot up, by two of their own students none the less. Put yourself in their shoes for a second, you’re sitting in class, boring as usual and then suddenly hear some weird noise, kind of like a small bang. You hear it come closer and closer through the hall outside of the classroom. What do you do? Youy probably don’t know what you should do, am I right? Should you sit calmly and hope for the best, go check what it is or get the hell outta dodge? You’d probably sit calmly and hope for the best, but still worry for a bit. And then someone would come into the classroom and you would all be dead within a matter of seconds. So complaining that people didn’t panic like a bunch of paranoid conspiracy theorists on Halloween is kind of bullshit.

Now to something that is understandable on a surface level, but still baffles me is that people find this scene boring. And what I mean by “understandable on a surface level” is that when people want a shooting in a movie they expect tons of shooting, explosions, CGI and orchestral music blasting your eardrums. And while those things can be cool in some ways, they wouldn’t fit here. What Van Sant wanted was a more realistic, grounded and horrifying way of looking at it. What we see is these two simply walking around, occasionally firing off a shot. This scene is very quiet and doesn’t use the unnecessary Hollywood checklist. To be completely honest, the scene is one of my favorite scenes/third acts in any movie ever. One of the reasons for this is the fact that they use no music at all throughout the scene. Sure you could add some dramatic and bombastic song or sad piano song, but that wouldn’t have had the same effect. At that point the music would have told us what we should have felt “Sad Piano tells you to feel sad, so feel sad you fucker”. But “Elephant” chose the ballsy and in my opinion more powerful movie by not having any music at all throughout the scene. It makes the scene more real and more horrifying. Sometimes the best of something is nothing of something (If that makes any sense).

There are also people who really seemed to dislike the ending of the movie. Now for you who haven’t seen the movie in a while, and for you assholes who haven’t seen the movie at all and have kept reading despite my warning, I will recount the end. In the end Alex and Eric meet up in the school cafeteria and have a chat about how everything have gone for them… then Alex shoots Eric. Soon after we see Alex cornering two more students in a cold storage and standing there deciding their fate… “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”. And then it cuts without any real resolution. And I can see why some people would be pissed about it… but I personally like it. I love when a movie can be ambiguous about something. And an ambiguous ending is really something great… unless they plan a sequel and make it painfully obvious. Now I don’t think there have been any plans for “Elephant 2: Electric Boogaloo”, so I am happy with the ambiguity.

The point of “Elephant” isn’t to be the next big thing, it is about the lives of regular high school students and how it all one day changed. That’s it… nothing more to it.

“Elephant” is a tragic and brutal movie that I absolutely love and I do not agree with any of the points mentioned (Except for the acting being bad, but again, that’s not the point of the movie), but if you do, that’s fine as long as you have respect for differing opinions. Now that I am done with all of this, time for a question! What is your opinion of “Elephant”? Leave a comment.

Have a good one.

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