Director Gus Van Sant returned to the low-key style of his early independent efforts with this semi-improvised exploration of how violence makes its way into a typical American high school. Eric (Eric Deulen) and Alex (Alex Frost) are two close friends who are students in a well-to-do suburb of Portland, OR. Eric and Alex are at once ordinary and misfits; while they seem to be confined to the edges of the clique-oriented social strata of high school, little about their behavior draws attention to itself. Or at least not during a typical school day; on their own time, the two boys are fascinated by Nazi iconography, enjoy violent video games, tentatively explore homoerotic desires, and coolly begin to make plans for an armed ambush of the school, drawing up working diagrams of the lunch room during study hall and buying rifles over the Internet. Drawing an expected degree of controversy, Elephant had its world premiere when it was screened in competition at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, where it won both Best Director for Van Sant and the Palme d’Or. –IMDb
A director who is capable of crafting both deeply unconventional independent films and mainstream crowd-pleasers, Gus Van Sant has managed to carve an enviable niche for himself in Hollywood. Since debuting in 1985 with Mala Noche, Van Sant has become one of the premiere bards of dysfunction, populating his films with a parade of hustlers, junkies, psychopathic weather girls, homicidal teens, and troubled geniuses.
The son of a traveling salesman, Van Sant was born in Louisville, KY, on July 24, 1952. One constant in the director’s early years was his interest in painting and Super-8 filmmaking. Van Sant’s artistic leanings took him to the Rhode Island School of Design in 1970, where introduction to Avant-Garde cinema quickly inspired him to change his major from painting to cinema. After mobving to LA, Van Sant became fascinated by the existence of the marginalized section of L.A.‘s population, especially in context with the more ordinary prosperous world that surrounded them… read more
The rare American film in which teenagers are portrayed reasonably realistically. This film endured a lot of criticism for certain aspects when it was originally aired, possibly because too many people expected a more literal portrayal of the Columbine school shooting atrocity that inspired it. It's more meditative than documentary, and should be viewed as such. Characteristically auteur in its Van Sant-ness. :-)
Watching this again made me realize that I don't like this movie at all. The film makes you feel the concept of "an elephant in the room", with some scenes full of loneliness and doubt. I wish the movie were more silent, with less even non existant dialogue, only ambient music or sounds. But I hate the the pretentious and unneceseary social commentary (hitler, gay stuff, bulimia, etc). I will never see this again.
A look at the work of cinematographer Harris Savides.
One of the great cinematographers has left us. Savides worked with Van Sant, James Gray, Fincher, Noah Baumbach, Sophia Coppola, and more.
Andrea Arnold's follow-up to her acclaimed Red Road (2006), follows also in the footsteps of Alan Clarke, director of films and BBC plays
Muitos dizem que ninguém retrata a juventude americana tão bem como Gus Van Sant. E ao subir dos créditos finais, não podia pensar outra coisa senão concordar com tal afirmação. Ao lado do também excelente… read review
Because the noughties have come and gone, I am trying to revisit all the Palme d’Or winners of the past decade. I started with my most favourite Cannes winner of them all, Gus Van Sant’s Elephant… read review
In Gus Van Sant’s Elephant, there are no easy answers. The film is not about finding answers or reasoning an incomprehensible tragedy; that would be hubristic. No one has answers, and Van Sant… read review