30 – Elephant (2003)

My Rating: 6/10

Synopsis: In a certain high school, the school body is unaware that a catastrophe is about to walk in its halls, leaving traces of horror and violence in its wake.

I don’t get why there’s no sense of urgency in the final act. All the characters in the movie seem to be lethargic. I read somewhere that the actors here were made to improvise on their script but it was still too dry. I’m familiar that the film cast non-professional actors, but that doesn’t mean they can get away with it – being lame and sucky, (Primer also filmed on a budget and had an unknown cast but it’s very engaging all throughout)…Elephant contains a very strong plot which is inspired by the Columbine High School Massacre back in  1999 and the style that was employed by Gus Van Sant  (i.e. a general timeline shown multiple times with multiple perspectives in close-up) is reminiscent of something I watched before and I thought that was brilliant to use here.  But I believe the novelty of the Columbine and Elephant being the first high-profile pic to illustrate such a crisis are the only major driving forces why it bagged the 2003 Palme d’Or in Cannes and not necessarily because it was great. I’m a little miffed too why Gus Van Sant had to include some unnecessary kissing scene between the two shooters, it didn’t make any sense. Not that I’m anti or anything, I just don’t see the point, it doesn’t add up for me (even after justifying in their lines that they haven’t kissed somebody before).


Elephant, the title, is a reference to a phrase “elephant in the room” which means an obvious truth that is collectively ignored. It follows then that the title is pertaining to the act of bullying being collectively ignored by the school system. It could have been better though if it was given enough emphasis and not just brushed through. Not over stress it, just enough push to create a satisfying impact.


Runtime: 1hr 21min (IMDb)

Production Budget: $3 million (IMDb)

Grosses (Box Office Mojo)
   North America:  $1,266,955    12.7%
Foreign:  $8,745,067    87.3%

Worldwide:  $10,012,022

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