It is hard to imagine what it must have been like to watch ELEPHANT on television in Great Britain upon its release, especially for a viewer who'd not been especially primed. Part of watching this film 'now' definitely involves positing such a 'then.' It is of course something closer to conceptual art than it is to narrative cinema, and its influence on a whole generation of video artists cannot be overstated.
Television drama (if that's the right word) as its most parred-down and pure. It's not nice or easy but performs a central function of what British television could once do with relative ease and frequency: holding a subjective mirror up to itself and by just being there in the schedules. It's repetitions have a ghastly, balletic feel and the feeling of dread before the next killing is modulated with economy.
I got more cautious about the footsteps behind me after watching this film. Drab, industrial no man's land in Belfast is the scene of execution after execution. Late Clarke films had a hypnotic quality to them, sad we didn't get to see what he would have made in the 1990's and beyond
as an american born in 1992 watching this in the year 2016, i'm so far removed from the target audience that the film just makes me really uncomfortable and, admittedly, bored. i read about the film's backstory and the era surrounding it and i understand and respect its existence, but viewing it decades later, on its own, it doesn't do much for me. the final scene is the strongest, visually and otherwise.
Por un lado dictamina Clarke sobre esos sucesos en Irlanda del Norte, matanzas absurdas de las que nadie parece ser testigo, pero por otro lado (y pueda que sea para aquellos que ignoran esa masacre) es también una especie de discurso sobre cómo la violencia es tan cotidiana que de pronto lo que a inicio fue perturbador, luego se torno cíclico que no queda más que preguntar: ¿ahora quién o cómo morirá este personaje?
By tracking the shooters and leaving us just a few seconds with the dead victims the film creates a point of view more on the side of the killers than on the side of the victims. It all may come from the desire to represent the brute impact of death, but death itself is irrepresentable. To try and film it in a "neutral" way is to be omissive, is to be unethical, is to also commit an act of violence.