Watch Elephant

"An ordinary high school day. Except that it's not."
  • R
  • 2003
  • 1 hr 21 min
  • 7.1  (95,834)
  • 70

The 2003 movie Elephant directed by Gus Van Sant, is based on the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. The plot follows several high schoolers during a seemingly unremarkable day, leading up to a violent and horrific event. The film examines the complex and often misunderstood factors that can drive people to commit such atrocities.

Shot in a realistic, unobtrusive style, Elephant captures the mundane details of a high school day. The students go to class, eat lunch with friends, and gossip in the hallways. The camera follows them closely, creating an immersive and unsettling experience for the viewer. There is a sense of impending doom that permeates the entire film, even as the students go about their ordinary routines.

As the day progresses, tensions rise and conflicts arise between various groups of students. There are hints of bullying and social isolation, as well as simmering resentments and rivalries. These tensions culminate in a violent and devastating event, which leaves the survivors struggling to make sense of what has happened.

The film portrays the shooter and his motivations in a sympathetic light. Without excusing or justifying his actions, the movie suggests that his sense of powerless and his need for validation led him to take extreme measures. The other students, who are portrayed as mostly innocent victims, are also shown to be complicit in their own ways, through their actions or inactions. This complex portrayal of human nature adds depth and nuance to the film.

The acting is uniformly excellent, with a cast of mostly unknown young actors who bring a sense of authenticity to their roles. Elias McConnell and Alex Frost, who play two of the main characters, deliver powerful and nuanced performances that anchor the film. Eric Deulen, who plays the shooter, is especially memorable in his quiet intensity.

One of the strengths of Elephant is its avoidance of easy answers or pat explanations. The film refuses to simplify or sensationalize the tragic events that it depicts. Instead, it encourages the viewer to engage with the difficult and uncomfortable questions raised by school shootings. How can we prevent these horrific acts? What drives someone to resort to violence? Can we ever truly understand the motivations of a shooter? These are questions that linger long after the credits have rolled.

Overall, Elephant is a powerful and thought-provoking film that deserves to be seen. It is a sobering reminder of the all-too-real horrors that can occur in our schools and communities. The movie forces us to confront uncomfortable truths about human nature and the complex factors that can lead to violence. Yet despite its bleak subject matter, Elephant is also a work of art, with its striking visuals, evocative score, and masterful direction. This is a movie that will stay with you long after you've watched it.

In short, Elephant is an unflinching portrayal of school violence that offers no easy answers but instead encourages the viewer to contemplate difficult questions around the motivations of shooters and the societal factors that drive them.

Elephant is a 2003 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 21 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.1 and a MetaScore of 70.

Where to Watch Elephant
Elephant is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play and YouTube VOD. Some platforms allow you to rent Elephant for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 21 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.1  (95,834)
  • Metascore