Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Elephant (2003)

This is an imperfect-but-creditable movie. In a suburb near Portland, Oregon, several high school students are shown during a day at school. John's father Mr. McFarland (Timothy Bottoms) is driving erratically while drunk, so John asks him to switch places. Alex and Eric are bullied at school by jocks, including a spitball thrown at one of them during class. They decide to order some rifles through the internet. They also seem to have a homosexual interest in each other. One day they drive to the school and warn John to stay away. He figures out what is going on and starts alerting the other students who are already outside. The two boys attempt to set off a bomb and then start shooting at whoever they see.

Some of the characters in the film have the same name as the actors who played them. The film is based in part on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre where two perpetrators killed 13 victims and injured 24 others. This is the second movie in director Gus Van Sant's "Death Trilogy", all influenced by actual events; the others are Gerry (2002) and Last Days (2005). Filming was done at the former campus of Whitaker Middle School; the building was torn down in 2007. The title refers to a British short film about several blind men trying to describe an elephant and each one drawing different conclusions.

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