Elephant

User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 138 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 91 out of 138
  2. Negative: 32 out of 138

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User Reviews

  1. Jul 23, 2013
    4
    I pretty much liked the style of the film, I thought it was interesting. But at the end of the movie, there were too many walking sequences, and too little character development. I felt like they could have done more with it. At least, that's my opinion.
  2. BenD.
    Jun 21, 2006
    6
    this movie was too much like the actual columbine shooting. it was extreamly painful to watch during the shooting scene. there was really no plot to the movie at all and no explanations to the events in the movie whatsoever. the worst part is that there was really nothing that i took away from the movie apart from the numb feeling i had inside when it all ended. it was very disturbing and this movie was too much like the actual columbine shooting. it was extreamly painful to watch during the shooting scene. there was really no plot to the movie at all and no explanations to the events in the movie whatsoever. the worst part is that there was really nothing that i took away from the movie apart from the numb feeling i had inside when it all ended. it was very disturbing and i feel that i could have done without this movie being made. however, the cinimatograpy was absolutely beautiful. watching the movie feels as if you're looking at a piece of fine art. this alone, completely saves this film. Expand
  3. TracyM.
    Nov 16, 2003
    6
    I know people hate this movie and I know why they hate it. "Oh it's pretentious, it's pointless, the characters are 'developed' for no reason, it means to dramaticize by under-dramaticizing..." So far this seems like a love-it-or-hate-it film. I want to say that I loved it, but I have to admit that the trailer made more of an impact on me than the actual film. Then I I know people hate this movie and I know why they hate it. "Oh it's pretentious, it's pointless, the characters are 'developed' for no reason, it means to dramaticize by under-dramaticizing..." So far this seems like a love-it-or-hate-it film. I want to say that I loved it, but I have to admit that the trailer made more of an impact on me than the actual film. Then I realize the point really isn't necessarily about glorified emotional impact for the viewers; in fact this film takes great pride in NOT giving us the climactic wrap-up we expect from a movie about this subject. That is why I personally felt slighted by the end, but I still had an immense appreciation for the film. Yes, it's mundane. That is the point. Whether a person can handle that or not is simply a matter of personal tastes and opinion. That's why it is a hate-it or love-it film. Expand
  4. AndrewR.
    Nov 6, 2004
    4
    This movie is definitely Van Sant...beautifully shot. But what happened to the characters? So unclear what happened here, as there was no clear sense of what was up with the two "villains"...why did they shoot up the school? Because violence is 'cool'? Stupid scene of the two watching a Nazi propaganda video. Not to mention the 'shower scene', which I found almost as This movie is definitely Van Sant...beautifully shot. But what happened to the characters? So unclear what happened here, as there was no clear sense of what was up with the two "villains"...why did they shoot up the school? Because violence is 'cool'? Stupid scene of the two watching a Nazi propaganda video. Not to mention the 'shower scene', which I found almost as offensive as the violence itself - what kindof statement was made there? Disappointing. Expand
  5. MichaelL.
    May 4, 2004
    5
    Beautiful camerawork, lyrical direction. The sense of dread at times is overwhelming -- almost unbearable. I have no doubt that this film indeed depicts a day like any other at a typical high school. A day meandering toward doom. But, no matter how well-constructed "Elephant" is, it begs the final question "Why make it at all?" It smacks of exploitation. It seems to open wounds for no Beautiful camerawork, lyrical direction. The sense of dread at times is overwhelming -- almost unbearable. I have no doubt that this film indeed depicts a day like any other at a typical high school. A day meandering toward doom. But, no matter how well-constructed "Elephant" is, it begs the final question "Why make it at all?" It smacks of exploitation. It seems to open wounds for no reason other than the pornographic thrill of being "inside" during a grand-scale tragedy. Collapse
  6. BernardoM.
    Nov 29, 2003
    5
    Great aesthetics, but no ethics. There is no fun about playing Doom in the movies. And I wouldn't believe that everyone in high school is so dumb as shown in "Elephant". Nevertheless, the camera operation is really impressing.
  7. Elliott
    Oct 22, 2003
    4
    [***Potential SPOILERS***] Elephant is wonderful to look at and Van Sant's use of the camera is nothing short of incredible. Sadly enough, there is nothing else worth praising in the movie. The film ends in the middle of the shootout, the assailants purchase their guns off the internet hassle-free (destroys all credibility the film had), one of the killers is never developed at all,[***Potential SPOILERS***] Elephant is wonderful to look at and Van Sant's use of the camera is nothing short of incredible. Sadly enough, there is nothing else worth praising in the movie. The film ends in the middle of the shootout, the assailants purchase their guns off the internet hassle-free (destroys all credibility the film had), one of the killers is never developed at all, and then it's thrown in that they are gay?!? Further problems arise from the unbelievably unconvincing acting (it seems as though the students were reading off of a teleprompter as they were pleading for their lives) and Van Sant's obsession with Fur Elise wears out its welcome after the..... third time its played. True, the directing here is revelatory and quite wonderful and Van Sant legitimately won the directing award at Cannes, though I am very sorry to report, the rest of the film is horribly ill-conceived. For a subject so controversial and powerful, to make a film so ambiguous was a terrible mistake. Expand
  8. Nov 28, 2012
    6
    The subject matter is utterly appalling, but there's no doubting it's a very well made film.
  9. Apr 12, 2013
    6
    it disturbs me as to how many of those "users" who reviewed this film did so only at face value, and did nothing more than judge it by it's superficial exterior without giving any thought of it's social commentary. Maybe they'd forgotten that typical high school tropes (once viewed as benign) had taken a dramatic and violent left turn over the course of the last 30 years. Maybe they'veit disturbs me as to how many of those "users" who reviewed this film did so only at face value, and did nothing more than judge it by it's superficial exterior without giving any thought of it's social commentary. Maybe they'd forgotten that typical high school tropes (once viewed as benign) had taken a dramatic and violent left turn over the course of the last 30 years. Maybe they've forgotten the dirty ramifications of our countries past and flippant attitude pertaining the law of guns (using the second amendment as the proverbial crutch to further purify their agenda). Maybe, and just maybe, a movie like 'Elephant' gives supporters of lax gun laws another reason to cry bloody murder, re-thrown back towards the film industry. Who knows. regardless, there is a story to tell in Gus Van Sant's shocking (though cathartic) tale of a typical (or "typically violent") day in america's public school system......and for once, it doesn't have to be soft, or even pretty.

    not a bad film (though not an extraordinary film) 'elephant' is a vivid and fictional depiction of a typical American high school shooting; one that nearly mimicks to the 'T' the events of April 20, 1999....or simply, the Columbine Massacre. Whether it mimicks it or not, it follows in a series of many shootings that has kept the nation in proverbial stalemate, often times being the catalyst to current gun laws and the feasability of an archaic second amendment to the American constitution. No matter what side of the fence you reside on, the connotations of lax gun laws in this film are not only prevalent, but glaring. Take for instance a scene depicting an 18 year old kid purchasing a high powered assault rifle over the internet. Is that troubling enough for you?

    This isn't exactly a far fetched Suspense/Horror film shot with an art-house aesthetic.......these things actually happen.

    Whether there is validity in the films claims, it really doesn't matter. Albeit, not entirely a moot point, the fact that the fllm was still met with a barrage of unnecessary bad reviews says a lot about our nations apathy towards gun violence, and the kids who remain victim of it today.

    As for the movie......it is a bit trite and somewhat pretentious at times. It still manages a decent commentary on today's standards of low morals, false empowerment (by both the bullies and those who kill them) and the collective apathetic eye of the world. If you are bothered by this movie, or in any way find it to be in bad taste, try to remember what you did the day you learned about the Sandy Hook Murders. If you only read an article about it, congrats. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, absolute congrats. If you can tell me the name of the killer, some of the names of the children, the rifle that was used in the killings and some of the conspiracy theories passed around the internet........well, then you are in fact the reason major news corps love reporting on these things; 24/7 and for the world to see. *3.5 out of 5 stars"
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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. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: David Denby
    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. Premiere
    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]