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Water for Elephants (2011)

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Set in the 1930s, a former veterinary student takes a job in a travelling circus and falls in love with the ringmaster's wife.

Director:

Francis Lawrence

Writers:

Richard LaGravenese (screenplay), Sara Gruen (novel)
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Popularity
4,309 ( 266)
3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Reese Witherspoon ... Marlena
Robert Pattinson ... Jacob
Christoph Waltz ... August
Paul Schneider ... Charlie
Jim Norton ... Camel
Hal Holbrook ... Old Jacob
Mark Povinelli ... Kinko / Walter
Richard Brake ... Grady
Stephen Monroe Taylor ... Wade
Ken Foree ... Earl
Scott MacDonald ... Blackie
James Frain ... Rosie's Caretaker
Sam Anderson ... Mr. Hyde
John Aylward ... Mr. Erwin
Brad Greenquist ... Mr. Robinson
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Storyline

After his parents' death, Jacob Jankowski is left penniless and homeless. Events lead him to joining the circus as their vet, working under their unstable boss August whose violent tendencies give everyone reason to be cautious around him, including his beautiful and quiet wife Marlena, whom August is very possessive of and who Jacob finds himself soon falling in love with. Written by mel47

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Life is the most spectacular show on earth.

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for moments of intense violence and sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Polish

Release Date:

22 April 2011 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Agua para elefantes See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$38,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$16,842,353, 24 April 2011

Gross USA:

$58,709,717

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$117,094,902
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat | SDDS

Color:

Color | Black and White (home movie sequence)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Hal Holbrook had been recently widowed in real-life when he filmed his scenes. See more »

Goofs

While in the speakeasy August leaves the table that he, Marlena and Jacob are sitting at. Marlena is smoking a fairly short cigarette. In the next scene, the cigarette is noticeably longer. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Russ: [in the rain] Uh, Excuse me sir. Can we help you? Can we help you with something?
Old Jacob: Did I miss the Spec?
Charlie: Uh, yeah, I'm afraid so. The show was this afternoon.
Old Jacob: Oh.
Charlie: Did you come with the folks from Green Haven? Why don't we get out of the rain, and we'll call them for you.
Old Jacob: No, no! I came on my own.
Russ: It's okay. We're gonna call the home. We're gonna have them come pick you up.
Old Jacob: I'm telling you, I didn't come with the home! Why don't you take those rings out of your head, and maybe you ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

In 'The producers wish to thank' section of the credits, the Circus World Museum is listed as being in Barbaroo, WI. The actual town is Baraboo, WI. See more »

Connections

Featured in Maltin on Movies: J. Edgar (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Smile Please
Written by Robert Viger
Courtesy of APM
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Melodrama: Waltz Rages Through The Magic
27 April 2011 | by jonnyhaveySee all my reviews

Critically acclaimed novel "Water for Elephants" written by Sara Gruen was a New York Times #1 Best Seller in 2007 and now has taken a turn towards cinema with the help of Director Francis Lawrence ("I Am Legend"). The film's biggest draw comes from Robert Pattinson ("Twilight") after his tween vampire film following success, however, the real star of the show is Academy Award Winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Bastards"). Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line") stars as the film's leading lady hitting her stride late in the film. Hal Holbrook ("All The President's Men") opens up the film with the portrayal of present day Jacob Janowski found in a parking lot outside of the circus who begins telling the story of his early years connecting to one of the biggest circus disasters in history. Pattinson plays the younger Jacob, a veterinary student at Cornell whose his life is turned upside down. He drops out of school deciding to go jump a train. He realizes that he has joined the ranks of the Benzini Brothers Circus changing his life forever. He is thrown into the harsh reality of the Big Top meeting a man named August (Waltz) who reluctantly gives him a job working with the animals. Jacob becomes infatuated with August's wife Marlena (Witherspoon) who is a part of the lead act in the show that develops into a friendship between man, woman and a majestic elephant. However, life is a battle and the story is extremely dramatic leaving everyone's life at risk with August's alcoholic greedy rage on their doorstep.

Cristoph Waltz does what he does best with his most recent interpretation of a complicated ill-willed bad guy that audiences grow to hate, however, the depth of his performances make him memorable. He is able to give life to the cold soul of August making the viewer root for his demise along with his change of heart. Pattinson shows that he is more than just a tween king vampire, however, his full potential is not unleashed. The real star of the show is the majestic elephant herself (Rosie) and the character's journey to protect her hitting the right notes in the second half.

The magic and magnificence of the film is lost within the overly dramatic, lengthy exposition. The melodramatic backdrop of the film is omnipresent leaving little room for comic relief and the growth of the beautiful creatures to coexist. The most disappointing part of the film is Witherspoon's odd character development making her very plain until halfway through the film. At the same time it seems like an eternity once the elephant finally enters the film showing an inkling of hope, while the love triangle becomes childish, cliché and eventually annoying.

Overall, the film has an average script that is aided by the performances of its actors. It is hard to overlook the melodrama as Waltz controls the show, which is actually more about life and relationships than the circus.


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