Hollywood Reporter - 05/20/2003
"...Harris Savides' camera and Leslie Shatz's sound design capture the mood and rhythms of campus life..."
Premiere - 11/01/2003
Movieline's Hollywood Life - 11/01/2003
"...It is unlike any film you've seen..."
USA Today - 10/24/2003
"...This well-photographed treatment does elicit an under-your-skin sense of dreadful foreboding..."
Rolling Stone - 11/13/2003
"...The unique and unforgettable ELEPHANT keeps its eyes wide open..."
Entertainment Weekly - 10/31/2003
"...Van Sant conjures the feeling of suburban school-year everydayness with Proustian power..."
Los Angeles Times - 10/24/2003
"...The film is a stunning response to an American tragedy....It offers radical proof that movies exist not just to entertain, but to provoke riots in our hearts and minds..."
Chicago Sun-Times - 11/07/2003
"It simply looks at the day as it unfolds, and that is a brave and radical act."
Wall Street Journal - 12/27/2012
"Calmly, almost serenely, Mr. Van Sant and his superb cinematographer, Harris Savides, reveal a vision of contemporary American youth quite unlike any other..."
Gus Van Sant's drifty, eloquent, and effortlessly poignant ELEPHANT is loosely based on the massacre at Columbine High School. (On April 20, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado two 17-year-old boys fired semiautomatic weapons on their high school classmates, killing 13, injuring 25, and then taking their own lives.) Van Sant's film is set in Portland, Oregon and uses non-actors chosen from an open casting call of high school students. On a crisp, sunny fall day, with colorful leaves on the trees and puffy clouds drifting across blue skies, students arrive at school as usual. Eli takes photographs for his portfolio, John manages problems with his alcoholic father, Acadia attends a gay-lesbian meeting, Nate plays a game of tag football, and Michelle works in the library. Meanwhile, two outsiders, Eric and Alex, harbor hatred for their peers. Each of ELEPHANT's students have unique interests and personalities, and the film respectfully emphasizes their individuality. It also demonstrates how school is an unpredictable blender where students' differences are constantly agitated. Harris Savides' excellent photography--shot in 1:33 aspect ratio, making the movie a cube in the center of the screen--follows and floats, sometimes blurring and juxtaposing the light to achieve an ethereal mood; while Leslie Shatz's ambient sound design and a soundtrack of soft Beethoven piano music completes that feeling. The film is structured in brief overlapping chapters all taking place the morning of the 11:35 A.M. attack.
ELEPHANT won the Palme D'Or and Best Director at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival.
Essential Cinema |
High School Experiences |
High School Students |
Theatrical Release |
Theatrical Release Date: October 24, 2003 (NY/LA) November 7, 2003 (EXPANDS)