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USA: Fine Line Features
UK: Optimum Releasing
Cast: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Elias McConnell, Jordan Taylor, Carrie Finklea, Nicole George, Brittany Mountain, Alicia Miles, Kristen Hicks, Bennie Dixon, Nathan Tyson, Timothy Bottoms, Matt Malloy, Larry Laverty, Ellis E Williams, Chantelle Chriestenson, Kim Kenney, Marci Buntrock, Roman Ostrovsky, Vana O'Brien, Michael Paulsen, Alfred Ono, Marychris Mass, Jim Steinpreis
Director: Gus Van Sant
USA & UK: 81 mins
USA Rated: R for disturbing violent content, language, brief sexuality and drug use - all involving teens
UK Certificate: 15 contains strong violence and language
USA Release Date: 24 October 2003 (Limited Release - Los Angeles and New York)
UK Release Date: 30 January 2004
Winner of the Palme d'Or and Best Director prizes at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, Gus Van Sant's ELEPHANT takes us inside an American high school on what appears to be an ordinary day.
Throughout his career, from MALA NOCHE and MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO through GOOD WILL HUNTING and FINDING FORRESTER, Van Sant has explored what it is to be young and searching for a place in the world, an identity that feels true. With ELEPHANT, Van Sant takes these inquiries into new terrain, working with actual high school students to create a portrait of teenagers in today's volatile world. ELEPHANT unfolds on an ordinary day, filled with class work, football, gossip and socializing. The film observes the comings and goings of its characters from a gentle remove, allowing us to see them as they are. For each of the students we meet, high school is a different experience: stimulating, friendly, traumatic, lonely, hard. Beautiful and poetic - yet deeply disturbing - ELEPHANT shows high school life as a complex landscape where the vitality and incandescent beauty of young lives can shift from light to darkness with surreal speed.
It's a beautiful fall day, and golden leaves skitter ahead of the wind across green lawns. Walking through the park on his way to class, Eli persuades a punk-rock couple to pose for some photographs. Nate finishes football practice and goes to meet his girlfriend Carrie for lunch. John leaves his dad's car keys in the school office for his brother to pick up. In the cafeteria, Brittany, Jordan and Nicole gossip and complain about their mothers' snooping. Michelle dashes to the library, while Eli snaps some photos of John in the hallway. John walks out onto the lawn, crossing paths with Alex and Eric.
An ordinary high school day. Except that it's not.