Type: Creative Essays
Sample donated: Merle Warner
Last updated: March 14, 2019
My responses to Gus Van Sant’s Elephant with close reference to post-screening discussion inmind is elaborated in the following essay presented below:- I believe in our contemporary society the duration and length of cuts and camera angles of anymedium has become so fast paced that we need a movie like Gus Van Sant’s Elephant to remindus of the beauty and elegance of languid and mundane filmmaking. Films of today have becomeso structured and predictable that we need a jolt to this structuralized pattern of filmmaking whichthis movie delivers through its ability to foster inquiry in the audience’s mind without making the”question” so obvious. My response to the movie in the first ten minutes was the thought that I’m watching anexperimental art film regarding a regular day in the life of a few high school kids. Initially, the indieteen romantic drama theme felt was very prominent which can be based on the few archetypes weare introduced which are showcased in such films such as the creative teen archetype ( Elias )with his photography, attractive and popular guy archetype (Nathan ) with his popularity with girlsand athletic inclination, introverted teen archetype ( Michelle ) Etc . As time progressed I realisedthis is not ‘Film ‘ with a conventional arch or even a protagonist with the intention to entertain rathersomething more.
What transformed the film for me was when at twenty-fore minutes and forty-two seconds the filmsreveal the two boys and their brief warning to John McFarland took me back because in thatmoment I realised what the film was about. The nineteen ninety-nine- Columbine High Schoolkillings were something I had studied and had prior knowledge but I had no idea that this film wasbased or even connected to it. From that moment onwards I was entranced for the entire remainingduration of the film as there is nothing more attractive to my attention than impending danger.
A few seconds after this revelation I realised why the titles name is elephant as it refers to themetaphorical idiom of apparent problem or danger that no one desires to address. everyone wouldhave or should have had some knowledge that something was severely not right with those twokids. That someone should have spoken or done something prior to the incident that caused themto become that way and do the things they did. After the credits finished rolling my response to thevery common question which is asked after not only this but any great tragedy that takes place ,that of ” how or why such a tragedy can be allowed to happen ” is that there was always the”elephant in the room ” yet the choice to remain silent on the issue is the only response anyonegave . The film after analysing and understanding it. I have realised that it has a lot of subtexts involved init such as suppression of homosexuality, bullying, violent video games, absentee parenting, gunlaws, etc As well as symbolism such as the clouds, the Hitler documentary, the video game guncomparison shot etc. This for me made the movie an immersing experience which drew me intothere world. The film ends with a dark and sinister final few minutes of the film which are some of the mostmemorial moments of the film with me wanting more even after knowing the fate of the shootersand the victims.
I would like to end by stating that the movie for me personally was not emotional like a dramabased film nor it imbibed a sense of fear like any horror films. the film leaves me with a sense ofnumbness and dazed after watching it. Any film with the intent to make you feel a certain emotion even afterthe film ends is a film I feel can be classified as a brilliant film and this film certainly does so.