|HBO Films | Release Date: October 24, 2003||CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION|
I haven't been crazy about a lot of Van Sant's recent work, but what he does here is simply astonishing. [November 2003, p. 25]
Calmly, almost serenely, Mr. Van Sant and his superb cinematographer, Harris Savides, reveal a vision of contemporary American youth quite unlike any other.
Has a gentle, hypnotic tone that's insistently sweet and elegiac, in spite of the horrors that overwhelm the frame. In its juxtaposition of the serene and the violent, the beautiful and the brutal, the film achieves a balance that's exquisitely judged, tiptoeing artfully through a cultural minefield. Read full review
Like the violence in Alan Clarke's Elephant, the BBC documentary about Northern Ireland from which the film takes its name, Van Sant offers no straightforward reasons for what happens at this particular school. The explosion of violence is far from unmotivated, but its roots are presented as deeply personal and, even more troubling, ultimately inexplicable. Read full review
In the end, this odd, beautiful movie is remote and more suggestive than satisfying--a coolly impassive film about catastrophe made at a time when some of us might prefer an attempt at explanation. And yet Elephant is something to see. [27 October 2003, p. 112]
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