User Score
6.6

Generally favorable reviews- based on 124 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 88 out of 124
  2. Negative: 31 out of 124
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  1. MikeT.
    Oct 18, 2005
    1
    This movie is awful. It's the cinematic equivalent of an empty canvas - arrogant and insulting. My immediate response when the movie thankfully ended, was "that's 80 minutes of my life I'll never get back". This is a class project, not a film. As a class project, it might rate a good grade. I highly reccomend this movie for cinematography instructors - it will give you This movie is awful. It's the cinematic equivalent of an empty canvas - arrogant and insulting. My immediate response when the movie thankfully ended, was "that's 80 minutes of my life I'll never get back". This is a class project, not a film. As a class project, it might rate a good grade. I highly reccomend this movie for cinematography instructors - it will give you something to talk about. I gave it 1 point for the cinematography (I was going to give it 2, but the scene with a flag football game where the camera didn't move for 5 minutes was a 1 point deduction). For anybody looking for something of interest, or to be (gasp!) entertained, don't bother. This must be what watching a snuff film is like. I knew where the film would evolve to, and sat through an agonizing hour of nothing to get there. Only to have the 20 minutes of actual script concentrate entirely on the violence, and end suddenly with no warning, no point, and no conclusion. A prize winning film? Right. This is a film for those people who likes anything that they are sure nobody else will like, because that allows them to proclaim themselves to be an "expert". A for Arrogant. B for Boring. C for Catatonic. D for Dreadful. And F for the movie's grade. Expand
  2. AndyJ.
    Nov 2, 2005
    1
    Maybe next time, Van Zant can create a 90 minute film about a 12 year old being molested by a grown man...all for the sake of "ART" ... so that we don't turn a "blind eye" to the topic. Maybe he could call that one "Moose" or perhaps, "Zebra". Elephant was a sad film for all the wrong reasons. It was well-made, well-filmed and well-acted. Unfortunately, the script and topic was utter Maybe next time, Van Zant can create a 90 minute film about a 12 year old being molested by a grown man...all for the sake of "ART" ... so that we don't turn a "blind eye" to the topic. Maybe he could call that one "Moose" or perhaps, "Zebra". Elephant was a sad film for all the wrong reasons. It was well-made, well-filmed and well-acted. Unfortunately, the script and topic was utter crap. I want my money back. Expand
  3. Jonathan
    Jan 7, 2004
    2
    Saw this at the New York Film Festival and left pissed. How dare Van Sant take a subject as heartbreaking as this and turn it into pornographic, underdeveloped nonsense. I was greatly, deeply offended by it. Van Sant doesn't allow the audience to get to know any of the characters, so when their deaths ensue, the audience doesn't feel sadness, but instead hatred - using the Saw this at the New York Film Festival and left pissed. How dare Van Sant take a subject as heartbreaking as this and turn it into pornographic, underdeveloped nonsense. I was greatly, deeply offended by it. Van Sant doesn't allow the audience to get to know any of the characters, so when their deaths ensue, the audience doesn't feel sadness, but instead hatred - using the Columbine incident as an excuse for cardboard characters and a hollow script (it is a mere 81 minutes, folks) is an insult to anyone who personally had a connection to any one of our country's latest school shootings. Expand
  4. MikeB.
    Feb 7, 2006
    2
    Pretentious baloney. Cliched characters (the jock with his pretty girlfriend, the dorky girl, the three chatty bulemics) walk the halls and occasionally mumble lines for an hour or so until the two camoflauge-clad, violent video-games playing NeoNazis head into the school for the killfest. If only I was intelligent enough to love this shallow dribble for what it is.
  5. [Anonymous]
    May 4, 2007
    1
    This movie was boring, story is pretty slow. Nothing really happens in the movie. It got so boring that I skipped to the end. The ending ended too early.
  6. TonyB.
    Sep 21, 2005
    0
    That such a serious subject has been treated so poorly constitutes a cinematic crime of catastrophic proportions. Is it possible that anyone connected with this claptrap has ever spent a moment in a high school? It screams artsy pretentiousness all through its deadening 81 minutes.
  7. Alpas
    Aug 10, 2006
    2
    What a piece of crap "most of the film was improvised" says imdb "nazi homosexuals are bad" answers bright forum member that`s all about that.
  8. SophiaS
    Sep 20, 2008
    2
    This is a movie you either love or hate, basically. Personally, I hated it. It was predictable and boring, and barely moving.
  9. Mar 27, 2011
    0
    This movie is so bad, it is not even worth writing a review about. It is beyond ridiculous. It looks like a home video, with bad dialogue and bad acting, freakish characters, no plot, no pace, no nothing. How can anyone give this a rave review ? I wonder why it is that you have to endure 99 **** movies, just to find one good one. It is like searching for the needle in the haystack. I thinkThis movie is so bad, it is not even worth writing a review about. It is beyond ridiculous. It looks like a home video, with bad dialogue and bad acting, freakish characters, no plot, no pace, no nothing. How can anyone give this a rave review ? I wonder why it is that you have to endure 99 **** movies, just to find one good one. It is like searching for the needle in the haystack. I think the problem is that with today's technology, everybody can make films, so there is a lot more crap out there than before, when studios had to think of something good, because it cost a lot of money to make films, and they had to make sure they would make it back. This film is the bottom of the barrel. Expand
  10. Mar 31, 2013
    2
    A glorified re-enactment which offers little more than a Wikipedia entry on the matter.
  11. [Anonymous]
    Jul 20, 2004
    2
    Frustrating to watch...sloooooooow.
  12. M.Taylor
    Aug 9, 2004
    0
    Arthouse wanky bollocks, so up itself it forgets to be even remotely interesting, less fun than eating glass, and if it is a gesture to the victims it is empty handed as the people in the film seem colourless and lifeless, I bet they were anything but, rolling in their graves comes to mind!
  13. HeatherW.
    Jul 13, 2007
    0
    I have officially found the worst movie of all time. The characters were all stereotypes, not even close to real people. The only message that we are told is that homosexuals, who play video games and watch documentaries on the Third Reich run out and kill people. It is not even shot that well. Throughly and utterly disappointing
  14. MetroM.
    Oct 26, 2004
    0
    Just stupid hand held shot in a day film that drags with no plot or actors but just a camera following kids aroudn who do nothing then some guys like Eminem types who shoot up some kids - duh - no one calls ploice or rings fire alarm?? IT is stupid totally stupid.
  15. Paul
    May 10, 2004
    2
    This is the longest 80 minutes you will ever spend. The boys that do the evil aren't developed that well. I wanted to see more of why they were so mad at the world. Too much of the movie is walking around without adding anything to the movie. I can live without knowing the reason for everything, but wasting large amounts of time on things that don't move the plot along is This is the longest 80 minutes you will ever spend. The boys that do the evil aren't developed that well. I wanted to see more of why they were so mad at the world. Too much of the movie is walking around without adding anything to the movie. I can live without knowing the reason for everything, but wasting large amounts of time on things that don't move the plot along is stupid. I would like to see more of the shooting and the aftermath than the walking around campus. Expand
  16. GaborA.
    Jul 8, 2004
    1
    If you take the Breakfast Club but cut out allmost all the dialouge, and have them walk out of detention into a stream of bullets you basically get Elephant. This movie was terrible. Had this movie come out before Columbine its purpose would have been to show us that this type of thing can happen to anyone. As it came out after it seems its purpose is to replace the scary daydreams that If you take the Breakfast Club but cut out allmost all the dialouge, and have them walk out of detention into a stream of bullets you basically get Elephant. This movie was terrible. Had this movie come out before Columbine its purpose would have been to show us that this type of thing can happen to anyone. As it came out after it seems its purpose is to replace the scary daydreams that all students have sometimes at school knowing now that this can happen to anyone. However, my dreams are not so mundane, irrelevent, irrational, pretemtuous, and flat out bad as Sant's Elephant. Expand
  17. ScottM.
    May 14, 2005
    2
    I thought it would have guts to tell a good and disturbing, but they tried just to go for disturbing.
  18. John
    Nov 3, 2003
    3
    There is really nothing TO get from this irreverent nonsense. Sure, Van Sant doesn't analyze the crimes at all, but this film is so devoid of anything, that it might as well not even exist.
  19. Tom
    Oct 23, 2003
    3
    I was also a quite angered by Elephant. Van Sant's sheer laziness - or as critics are calling it, his refusal to provide any answers - with the plot is maddening and frustrating. So much is left unanswered that we have to question EVERYTHING we're seeing, not just the shooting. At 81 short minutes, Elephant is definitely lacking something. And that something is resonance. I was I was also a quite angered by Elephant. Van Sant's sheer laziness - or as critics are calling it, his refusal to provide any answers - with the plot is maddening and frustrating. So much is left unanswered that we have to question EVERYTHING we're seeing, not just the shooting. At 81 short minutes, Elephant is definitely lacking something. And that something is resonance. I was completely unmoved by any of it. Expand
  20. SamL.
    Oct 26, 2003
    1
    I cannot see why this movie is getting raving reviews, for it was quite pathetic, actually. The film looks as if it were thrown together without enough thought put into the production. There were too many scenes that had no connections whatsoever, and weren't needed. The plot was so dull, and it doesn't get a bit interesting until the shooting begins. Then, it beccomes overly I cannot see why this movie is getting raving reviews, for it was quite pathetic, actually. The film looks as if it were thrown together without enough thought put into the production. There were too many scenes that had no connections whatsoever, and weren't needed. The plot was so dull, and it doesn't get a bit interesting until the shooting begins. Then, it beccomes overly grousome, and pointless. This film was obviously made for shock value, but the only shocking thing to me is that people actually liked the piece of crap. Expand
  21. SkyMoose
    May 19, 2004
    0
    Geez, I just watched this "movie". What the hell?!? It's 45 minutes of following people while they walk around the halls with pointless dialog and then 15 minutes of the 2 kids killing everybody. Why did they do it? What motivated them to want to kill everyone in the school? Why were they so evil? Is it because they were confused by their own sexuality? or because they happened to Geez, I just watched this "movie". What the hell?!? It's 45 minutes of following people while they walk around the halls with pointless dialog and then 15 minutes of the 2 kids killing everybody. Why did they do it? What motivated them to want to kill everyone in the school? Why were they so evil? Is it because they were confused by their own sexuality? or because they happened to see a show about Hilter? or because weapons were so easy to come by? or because they played violent video games? These were the only possibilities explored by the director.... this is a cliche at best! This movie answered nothing!!! Skip this one... it's pointless! Expand
  22. ThomY.
    May 23, 2004
    0
    Elephant isn't about an elephant, though if it was a movie about Babar it would be a thousand times better than this crap. Completely pointless and poorly acted. I think critics come together and say "How stupid do I think movie viewers are? Lets tell them elephant is chilling." It is like Lost in Translation but with less story, no theme, no emotion, no acting. Absolutely terrible.
  23. Tim
    Jun 13, 2004
    0
    All of these reviewers are talking about how brilliant and risk-taking this is. No. Intentionally making a boring movie is not risk-taking. Not celebrating or villifying anyone, while a good move, is not worth more than 5 points. Simply terrible.
  24. BenjaminA.
    Mar 28, 2005
    2
    This movie is aweful. I can't think of a more lazy attempt at a story. 90% is either walking or improvised banter. LAZY. The cast is made up of inexperienced amatures. LAZY They demonized the two kids by making them gay nazis? LAZY. Sure there are nice shots and interesting technical achievements, but it doesn't make up for this pathetic movie.
  25. ElephantHater
    Apr 12, 2005
    0
    This film makes me sick.
  26. JeremyF.
    May 15, 2007
    0
    This movie is the worst movie I've ever seen. I know all your 10-ers will say I'm crazy and badmouth me inside your head and say things like "How could he say this? He must have no taste." Well, honestly, I can't find one good thing in this movie. It drags on and the 90-minute duration feels like 120. It's ridiculous. I watched this movie cause everyone said it was so This movie is the worst movie I've ever seen. I know all your 10-ers will say I'm crazy and badmouth me inside your head and say things like "How could he say this? He must have no taste." Well, honestly, I can't find one good thing in this movie. It drags on and the 90-minute duration feels like 120. It's ridiculous. I watched this movie cause everyone said it was so good and artistic. It's not. It is simply a director getting lost inside his own desire to be so deeply artistic and compelling. Trying too hard is unflattering, and usually does more bad than good. Although, it almost seems like he didn't try hard enough, as this is a bland movie in it's entirety. It has some long drawn out shots of someone just walking, and stayed locked on the screen (camera not moving, of course, for our entertainment) well after the person leaves. I found myself confused at times, but when I eventually connected the dots and saw this was all one day, I was even more horrified. I HATE the scene where the two killers on in the shower together and kiss. This is the most unimportant and unrelated scene I've seen in a movie in a very very very long time. A lot of people think this scene is a perk, showing a brief moment of their relationship but never delving into it. BULL! This is an unneeded potential-love scene. Whatever. I don't care that this movie has an inconclusive ending, but I don't like that all that really was shown to us as a motive was the kid getting a paper ball thrown at him. Stupid. If this is supposed to be a reinterpretation of Columbine, he should be locked up from all film equipment, because he did a poor job. I think the actors and actresses were all mediocre, which I suppose worked in favor since it was supposed (again trying too hard) to be a "normal" highschool on a "normal" day. The actual film of the movie was beautifully shot, but the way it was shot (the long drags, the pointless following scenes) threw me off. The 5 to 15-minute dialog-less points I nearly fell asleep during. I want to appreciate his craft, but this is an insanely overhyped (one of the most I've ever seen) movie, THAT I RECOMMEND TO NO-ONE!!! Expand
  27. May 20, 2013
    1
    Here we go. And I thought "Natural Born Killers" was bad. I was glad that I had some cold drinks while "Date Movie" was playing, even gladder to turn it off.

    And now, possibly the worst film ever made, "Elephant". Don't read this if you have any intention of seeing this movie. I suggest you do something more rewarding though...have you clipped your toenails? You could also count the
    Here we go. And I thought "Natural Born Killers" was bad. I was glad that I had some cold drinks while "Date Movie" was playing, even gladder to turn it off.

    And now, possibly the worst film ever made, "Elephant".

    Don't read this if you have any intention of seeing this movie. I suggest you do something more rewarding though...have you clipped your toenails? You could also count the grains of salt in a salt shaker, that could be okay.

    I wasn't offended by the content, but by the complete banality of this movie. I know, I know, it was supposed to be like "real" life. It's supposed to be "art". But just because something is filmed differently doesn't mean it's any good.

    Here is the story (you don't need to read this if you know anything about the Columbine school shooting): It's a regular day at high school, until two misfit kids bring in guns and kill a bunch of people. There you go.

    This movie was LAZY. There was not one good character in this film. Of course, this was also for the purpose of being more "real", but come on. The "protagonists" were cookie cutter stereotypes the artsy photographer, the jock, the bulimic girls, the cafeteria workers smoking weed, etc...etc........And the acting! Yikes. The scene at the end, where the blond kid is "warning" others not to enter the school? I doubt the script's instructions said "With little-no urgency". Think "Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory" (Gene Wilder) in the scenes where the kids are going to so something bad and Wonka goes, "Oh. no. stop. don't."

    Apart from the piano playing (and even malicious teen boys who are into Beethoven is NOT an original idea, hello, Clockwork Orange), the boys who bring the guns into the school at the end are such a cliche slightly less good looking than the other kids, dressed in military clothes, into Nazis ("Heavens to Betsy! They're watching videos of Hitler! They're EVIL, I just caught on!") and violent video games, homosexual tendencies (of course the homosexual kids HAVE to be the f***ed up outcasts, right?)...it wasn't even clear that they were being antagonized at school apart from a spitball being thrown at one of them at one point.

    Instead of, well, anything, we are subjected to watching the back of some kid's head to the soundtrack of Beethoven's ENTIRE "Moonlight Sonata" as he walks through his (very extensive) high school grounds. We are subjected to the same scene played repeatedly through "different perspectives". We are shown a bunch of clouds throughout Beethoven's "Fur Elise." Please.

    And let's not forget about the movie's "messages", which were about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Real art raises, and even answers questions. This movie just insulted my intelligence. Yes, guns are WAYYY to easy to obtain in the USA (although I don't think Van Sant did his research for the scene in "Elephant"). Yes, no one takes the time to KNOW these kids, and we'll never know the reason for this senseless tragedy. Yes, parents should be more present in their kids' lives. Yes, violence is awful and pointless. Oh yeah, and school shootings are X-tra baaaad.

    Gus Van Sant just took advantage of a subject people were sensitive about. Gus Van Sant capitalizes on real tragedy with this thing.

    It had nothing to say. It's just awful and possibly insulting for people who had to deal with these issues in real life, and not on some cushy, pretentious art-house movie set.
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Metascore
70

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 37
  2. Negative: 2 out of 37
  1. 60
    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]
  2. It’s just another example of art-house hokey-pokey. Amazingly, this film won both the Palme d’Or and Best Director Award at Cannes, beating out, among others, "Mystic River."
  3. Reviewed by: Glenn Kenny
    100
    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]