3 October 2004, the wee hours

Elephant is a strange movie. The film is about school shootings. I can’t say I didn’t like the movie, I just can’t say I did like it either. The movie is incredibly slow, though I don’t think this is what I didn’t enjoy about the film. I think the slow start to the film is important, and works well. The final third of the movie is much more dramatic and compelling because of the relative calm of the first two thirds of the film. My major complaint with Elephant is that there are way too many long and drawn out shots of the backs of people’s heads as they are walking around. Also, the ending seemed abrupt. The way the story is pieced together is interesting, but not enough to redeem what I think are flaws in the movie.

The official Elephant web site



  1. Re: the backs of people’s heads…I think van Sant was going for the third person shooter perspective here, contrasting the banality of moving through the real world of high school with the continuous rush of Doom or Quake.

  2. This makes me think about the Marathon (Mac FPS) map Slim made from scale drawings of our high school. One day, we’d been playing the school map in the computer lab for 6 hours straight. Bleary eyed, I stepped out of the lab to “hit the head”, when out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a discarded rocket launcher on the ground. I was sufficiently irked by this hallucination to return to the lab where heavy artillery belongs.

  3. That is an interesting way to look at it. I feel like watching the movie again now. I think Van Sant definitely manages to take all the excitement out of the school shooting. The movie is so cold. It strikes me as a very respectful way to discuss the columbine shootings.

    And I wonder how Shawn’s map would go over now. I’m sure an a to scale map of a high school you can run through and shoot people up in would be frowned on to say the least.

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