35MM, COLOUR, DOLBY DIGITAL, 81 MINUTES, USA, ENGLISH / DIRECTOR/SCRIPT/EDITOR: GUS VAN SANT / CINEMATOGRAPHER: HARRIS SAVIDES / PRODUCTION CO: BLUE RELIEF PRODUCTIONS, FEARMAKERS STUDIOS, HBO FILMS, MENO FILMS, PIE FILMS INC. / PRINT SOURCE/RIGHTS: RIALTO FILMS, 2003
Gus Van Sant’s Palm d’Or winning Elephant is an examination of violence made explicit by the 1999 Columbine massacre. The title references Alan Clarke’s 1989 film about violence in Northern Ireland, and that film’s proverbial ‘elephant’ in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. Extended tracking shots survey the school’s topography, repeating the interaction between students from different perspectives, all interconnected as the film spirals towards tragedy. The film points simultaneously to the senseless consequences of the scenario, the cultural context of modern entertainment, the co-opting of historical signifiers and the confused sexuality of the two killers.
"Now remember to have fun."