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Elephant Single Film Study

jclarke | Saturday January 19, 2019

Categories: A Level, OCR A Level, Analysis, Film Analysis, Films & Case Studies, Independent Film, Elephant, Directors, Gus Van Sant, Non-Hollywood Films, Genres & Case Studies, Crime, Drama, Thriller

YouTube link to trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htlsOf3PnGY

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Context

Cinema is always evolving and it’s an exciting process to witness, to explore and to understand. A film such as Elephant is just one example of many notable films that have gone quite some way in transcending its original moment of release to become something of a landmark in contemporary cinema; in this instance contributing significantly to the broadening of non-Hollywood cinema’s reach. Certainly, Elephant provides us with a particular treatment of a national trauma in very recent American history and memory and, in turn, the film might well be considered particularly challenging.

Elephant is a film that’s suffused with a specific sense of time and place. Certainly, the film might yield interesting discussion in class to consider this film in relation to two other films explored in our Edusites resources: Do The Right Thing and City of God. Both of these films provoked considerable discussion and debate about their representations of a specific location and community and the impact of acts of violence within those places. Critically, the film is not specifically about the shootings at Columbine High School but is instead informed by that event. The characters, events and dialogue are fictional and imagined. In terms of the events that occurred in Columbine there is a brief and sufficient overview to be found here: https://www.britannica.com/event/Columbine-High-School-shootings

A very useful way of sketching out the value of Elephant is expressed in this excerpt from the Senses of Cinema website where the point is made that:

Elephant (2003) is Gus Van Sant’s cinematic response to the...


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