Review of Elephant

Elephant (2003)
From the guy who brought you a scene-by-scene remake of Psycho...
24 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
High school, kids having a normal day, two other kids shoot up the place, the end. There's the plot - glad we got that out of the way ...

Elephant is a perfect example of how an utterly worthless film can hide behind an important message and get praised for doing so. How is it possible that this film has won so many awards? There's absolutely nothing in here to warrant it.

Most of the film consists of steadicam shots of students walking through corridors - long endless corridors. Occasionally they stop and say something trivial to some other student. Oh, and since this is an "art film" the chronology is out of order and we get to see the same pointless events from different angles. Why? Because that's what makes the film seem like something else than a countdown to a bunch of executions.

If you didn't know that this film was about school shootings, would you still be watching it after the first 30 minutes? Are the lives of John, Elias, Nathan, and everyone else really that interesting? Or are you just waiting for the guns to start blazing.

There are no answers in this film (to be fair, there are no real questions raised either). Does Elephant bring anything new to the discussion regarding school shootings? No. I guess the (sort of) improvised acting and long takes are supposed to add an element of realism to the film. But it just feels fake and forced. Not for a second do I "believe" in any of these kids. They're just as stereotyped as always before.

I don't believe that Van Sant is interested in giving a real depiction of this kind of shootings. Just look at the actual shooters: bullied, slightly less good looking than everybody else, Nazis, gay, gun freaks, playing video games... Talk about taking the easy way out with those characters.

Elephant is the worst kind of pretentious film there is. It knows it's got nothing to say, so it discovers itself as art - that way people can look at it and say: "Oh it's so beautiful and poetic. And such an important message." The only thing Elephant managed to do, was to earn a tied top spot (together with Eyes Wide Shut) on my list of the most boring films ever made. [0/10]
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