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Elephant [Blu-ray]

Alex Frost , Eric Deulen , Gus van Sant    Suitable for 15 years and over   Blu-ray
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Elias McConnell, Jordan Taylor
  • Directors: Gus van Sant
  • Producers: Danny Wolf
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Region: Region B/2 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Studiocanal
  • DVD Release Date: 20 July 2009
  • Run Time: 80 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002BD9DPC
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,978 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



Elephant, the elegant and unsettling movie from Gus Van Sant (My Own Private Idaho, Good Will Hunting), depicts students at a high school before and during a harrowing, Columbine-style shooting. The movie follows one young boy who takes over the wheel from his drunken dad while returning from lunch, then loops back in time and follows another student who crosses paths with the first, then loops back and follows another--all captured in long, unedited tracking shots that are serene and unhurried, even when two boys in camouflage gear, carrying heavy bags, arrive at the school and begin shooting. Elephant doesn't attempt to explain their behaviour; it simply places the audience back in the brief yet interminable window of adolescence, when life is trivial and painfully important at the same time. Your reaction to Elephant will depend as much on your life experiences as anything in the movie itself. --Bret Fetzer

Product Description

Winner of the Palme D'Or Award at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, this controversial film by Gus van Sant portrays two days in the life of a suburban American high school that is set to become the scene of a Columbine-style massacre. Semi-improvised, using unknown teenagers rather than professional actors, the film adopts a fly-on-the-wall approach that surveys the various cliques and social strata of the school in a non-judgmental, documentary-like way. Against this background, two misfit friends, Eric (Eric Deulen) and Alex (Alex Frost), who spend their free-time collecting Nazi iconography and playing ultra-violent video games, are coolly planning an armed ambush on the school, drawing working diagrams of the school refectory during study period and buying weapons over the Internet. The film marks a return for Van Sant to the low-key style of his early independent films.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The elephant in the room 1 May 2008
By Phil H
Sometimes its worth looking at a film like this and examining whether it was showered with acclaim because its actually any good or because it's a fashionable subject. In the case of Elephant the praise was completely justified as this is a movie that succeeds in everything it sets out to do.

Elephant is an odd little film that sets out to juxtapose the ordinariness of the daily situation with the extremity of its outcome. To that end the cast was set during a casting call for local high school students in director Gus Van Sant's hometown. The resulting cast were largely not (at the time) professional actors and the roles they would play were in many cases moulded by the teenagers themselves. As Van Sant explains in an interview extra the characters are also teen movie archetypes to an extent and this serves to make the school that acts as the setting seem familiar. At just under 80 minutes long the film chronicles the final hour in the day of the characters leading up to an event that will (without wanting to make it too melodramatic) shatter their lives. In that hour the lives of the characters intersect, however briefly, and this is mixed in with parts of the 24 hours previously for two of their number.

Essentially Elephant is a fictionalised rendering of a High School shooting spree, heavily influenced by the infamous Columbine Massacre. To that end it is set as an ordinary school day until the first shot is fired. Long, dialogue free, stretches abound as characters move from one place to the next. Some of the characters are likeable, others are not so likeable, its clear though that they are teenagers and none deserve to die. Van Sant makes no effort to lay blame for this kind of event.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exremely Good - not for everyone 11 April 2006
By A Customer
Reading the reviewers of Van Sant's Elephant, you get the feeling that there is a very definite split between the audience. People either love it or hate it - there doesn't seem to be any grey area. Unfortunately (or furtunately, depending on how you choose to look at it), this is probably the best way to describe challenging and ambitious art cinema - doesn't this rule generally apply to most avant guarde films that are considered the best of their time?

It's true Elephant is long, and nothing happens for about an hour, you do merely follow students around the corridors of a school, and yes the killers are surprisingly cliche. And these are the elements that people will base the fact of loving or hating the film.

One of the major problems of a film like this and the subject that it is tackling is that it will gain a large recognition. And because of this it will be given more of a mainstream audience than it probably would have done otherwise. This is not a bad thing, but it does mean that a large number of people going to see a film like this that is tackling a hot topic of the day will be unprepared for the unconventional, voyeuristic piece of art filmmaking that will unravel. Film students, and people well conversed in filmic conventions and styles will, more often than not, love it as it subverts and offers new conventions. But to an audience that is more accustomed to watching 'normal' films, it will strike a barron and boring chord.

So does this mean that the film is boring and pointless? No of course not, and it is also not a film that is merely preaching to the converted, as even that has much to teach and bring to filmmaking and so is definetly not futile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elephant by Gus Van Sant 7 Mar 2008
By M
The film is a true artistic masterpiece, with brilliant camera use, plot and the way the story is presented as a whole. The film follows various characters at an American High School (the actor's real names are used in the film for realism) and the absolute catastrophy that ensews at the end of the film. It is based on the true events of the Columbine High School Massacre in 1999 as more of a docu-drama rather than a full blown drama. After reading some of the poorly rated reviews left by customers I was actually quite shocked because this film is very good, they just obviously can't see an artistically sound film. I just can't express how artistic this film really is.

A great buy, but don't get it if you're easily shocked.

I'd also like to point out the reasoning behind the title of the film: in America there's a saying, "The elephant in the room," referring to a problem that no-one will admit is present, therefore referring to the events that occurred.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars worth watching? perhaps.. 13 July 2008
I'll hand it to this film for covering a daring subject as this. I think it is a clever concept in theory, but but in practise it simply falls short of success. The film intentionally gives you a voyeuristic view of high school students and the mundane interactions of a typical high school day, without ever letting you get too close to them as individuals. Whilst this is intentional, I felt that it prevented me from ever becoming emmersed in the film, and feeling any connection or empathy for the students whatsoever.

If you are reading this review, chances are you already have a pretty good idea that a terrible tradegy puts an end to this dreary school day. Well I did aswell, and thus spent the whole film just waiting for it to happen. They clearly try to make a powerful statement by following these kids lives avidly, only to have them picked off like rabbits, although I knew it was going to happen, so didnt really feel any sense of loss when it did. I was satisfied in a way, since I'd been waiting so damn long for it to happen.

It is shot in the style of a documentary, with no fancy camera work. This is supposed to imply the reality of the high school situation and also the fact that the event is based on a real one. Granted it is shot in a way that is about as real as it can possibly be... Although you know its not actually real, it's a made up film, and personally, I couldn't get past that.

The background story of the killers is a bit flaky and pointless in my opinion. In the featured interview with the director, he points out that nobody actually knows what droves the boys to such an act so they make one up themselves. Fair enough, but it just seems like another way that this film doesn't really work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother
Published 1 month ago by MR W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Elephant
Absolutely brilliant movie. Gus Van Sandt directs this beautifully and in an obscure way. Highly recommended to all deciding to purchase it
Published 6 months ago by Darryn Grinter
4.0 out of 5 stars Elephant (2003).
On a normal day students at a high school are about to encounter deadly force.

Gus Van Sant's Elephant is the third film of his death trilogy. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Nelson Viper
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a masterpiece at all
Take away the serious subject matter and this film has little to commend it. Dressing up the story with over-use of stedicam, continuous takes, improvisation, and poor scripting... Read more
Published 16 months ago by P. Osborne
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but slightly flawed
I'm sure there are many people who watched this film based purely on a morbid fascination with the Columbine High School shooting that happened back in the 90's. Read more
Published 17 months ago by patrick
4.0 out of 5 stars A captivatingly hypnotic film let down by too much style and a few...
Big fan of the work of Gus Van Sant but this one I had a few problems with and that's a lot more than I've ever had with any of his other work. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr Blonde
5.0 out of 5 stars awful grace
You want it to be an ordinary teen day of grace and bitchin' and head-ringing angst and business as usual. But it isn't. Superb film. The sound design is inspired.
Published 19 months ago by Papergirl
1.0 out of 5 stars Awful
Really looked forward to seeing this after watching the shooting scene on youtube however the whole film is watching people walking around for an hour before anything happens. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Rebecca
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for everyone- Im one of them
I can see why some people would like this film but i would have to say it is probably a minority. It basically is a film following school kids walking around a school. Read more
Published 22 months ago by DexterDanyl
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Happy
Elephant [DVD] [2004]

I am Extremely sattisfied with my shopping experience! I now prefer no other way of purchasing my dvds... Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2012 by P Joubert
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