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Discussion: Elephant - LiveJournal Movie Club — LiveJournal

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Previous Entry Discussion: Elephant May. 27th, 2004 @ 10:58 am
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From:shared_boxers
Date:May 27th, 2004 12:52 pm (UTC)
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I like how Gus Van Sant played with time in this film. When in a scene focusing on a character, other characters move in the background. Then, he jumps back in time to follow that character, and eventually goes right back through that scene but from the other perspective. I really liked how that worked.

The pacing seems pretty slow, but I think it works, because the long shots add a much more realness to movie rather than quick cuts. You see the characters as they move and interact with people, even just the waves and nods.

Ultimately, the movie doesn't do anything to answer any of the questions regarding school shootings. It doesn't justify or attack events such as Columbine, but instead just puts you there. But, I don't think the point was to explain anything. It wasn't meant to offer any sort of insight or understanding.

The movie itself feels like an experiment in a style of story telling, not necessarily telling a story. The style of camera movement and pacing creates a very calm atmosphere in this school where a pretty horrible thing occurs. But in the chaos that ensues when the students start opening fire is counterbalanced by the slow, fly-on-the-wall method of story telling.

I liked it, not so much for the story, but for how the story was told. I think it was a very beautiful movie that showcases how playing with pacing and shot lengths can really alter the mood of a movie, even when something terrible happens.
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From:jsangspar
Date:May 27th, 2004 05:37 pm (UTC)
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More-or-less I agree; definitely it does not try to question or answer anything, merely portray events, much like I hear Gerry was supposed to, that there was no deeper meaning within; it was indeed beautiful; I really enjoyed it. My sole issue with it was van Sant's inclusion of video games played by the killers prior to the incident; perhaps I'm too knee-jerk on it but it almost seems like he's conceding the point that video games inspired Columbine (which, despite the doubtlessly necessary and humorous credits disclaimer, this was clearly a fictionalization of), particularly when, in one of the brief scenes as they discuss their plan over the map, we see from a very similar first-person-shooter perspective with the gun at the bottom of the frame and the camera turning with it.

Outside of what seemed to be a total cop-out on van Sant's part there, I definitely have no issues with this film; it's beautiful, and slow, but incredibly tense; it masterfully captures and portrays high-school life; it's just a great work.
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