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[[InTheStyleOf Influenced by the minimalist realism of Clarke's short]], the film is noted for its use of long tracking shots, extended sequences with little or no dialogue and a cast comprising mostly of non-actors, giving it a disconnected and ethereal quality.

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[[InTheStyleOf Influenced by the minimalist realism of Clarke's short]], short, the film is noted for its use of long tracking shots, extended sequences with little or no dialogue and a cast comprising mostly of non-actors, giving it a disconnected and ethereal quality.


''Elephant'' is a Gus Van Sant film made in 2003 that tells the story of a high school shooting similar to the UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} massacre.

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''Elephant'' is a Gus Van Sant Creator/GusVanSant film made in 2003 that tells the story of a high school shooting similar to the UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} massacre.


[[DoubleMeaningTitle The title refers both to how]] Van Sant interpreted the short's name (the old Jain parable of a group of several blind men trying to describe an elephant and drawing different conclusions based on which body part each touched) and [[{{Jossed}} what Clarke originally intended]] (the idea of the ElephantInTheLivingRoom, in this case being Columbine).

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[[DoubleMeaningTitle The title refers both to how]] Van Sant interpreted the short's name (the old Jain parable of a group of several blind men trying to describe an elephant and drawing different conclusions based on which body part each touched) and [[{{Jossed}} [[DeathOfTheAuthor what Clarke originally intended]] (the idea of the ElephantInTheLivingRoom, in this case being Columbine).



This is the second film in Van Sant's ''[[ThematicSeries Death Trilogy]]''. The first was ''Film/{{Gerry}}'' and the third was ''Film/LastDays''.

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This is the second film in Van Sant's ''[[ThematicSeries Death Trilogy]]''. The first was Trilogy]]'', following ''Film/{{Gerry}}'' and the third was preceding ''Film/LastDays''.


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''Elephant'' is a Creator/GusVanSant film made in 2003.

It tells the story of a high school shooting similar to the UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} High School massacre. It constructs the story of a single day from the viewpoint of different high school students, including the two shooters themselves. While many possible explanations are offered for the actions of the shooters (violent video games, neo-Nazism, bullying, etc.) the film deliberately does not make their motives clear.

Gus Van Sant based the movie on a short film made by Alan Clarke of the same name that was broadcast on the BBC in 1989. Clarke's film dealt with UsefulNotes/TheTroubles in Northern Ireland and was largely composed of tracking shots following gunmen as they assassinate targets. The title refers both to the old Jain parable of a group of blind men who each touch a different part of an elephant and then disagree on what they are feeling, and the idea of the ElephantInTheLivingRoom (in this case the elephant being UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} and the true reasons for it).

The film is noted for use of long tracking shots, extended sequences with little or no dialogue and a cast comprising mostly of non-actors, giving it a disconnected and ethereal quality.

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''Elephant'' is a Creator/GusVanSant Gus Van Sant film made in 2003.

It
2003 that tells the story of a high school shooting similar to the UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} High School massacre. It constructs massacre.

Van Sant based the movie on a 1989 BBC short film of the same name made by Alan Clarke. Clarke's film dealt with UsefulNotes/TheTroubles in Northern Ireland and was largely composed of cold, observational tracking shots following gunmen as they assassinate targets.

[[DoubleMeaningTitle The title refers both to how]] Van Sant interpreted the short's name (the old Jain parable of a group of several blind men trying to describe an elephant and drawing different conclusions based on which body part each touched) and [[{{Jossed}} what Clarke originally intended]] (the idea of the ElephantInTheLivingRoom, in this case being Columbine).

The structure of the film more closely resembles Van Sant's vision, as
the story of a single day is shown from the viewpoint of different high school students, students (read: blind men), including the two shooters themselves. While many possible explanations are offered for the actions of the shooters (violent video games, neo-Nazism, bullying, etc.) etc), the film deliberately does not make their motives clear.

Gus Van Sant based [[InTheStyleOf Influenced by the movie on a short film made by Alan Clarke minimalist realism of the same name that was broadcast on the BBC in 1989. Clarke's film dealt with UsefulNotes/TheTroubles in Northern Ireland and was largely composed of tracking shots following gunmen as they assassinate targets. The title refers both to short]], the old Jain parable of a group of blind men who each touch a different part of an elephant and then disagree on what they are feeling, and the idea of the ElephantInTheLivingRoom (in this case the elephant being UsefulNotes/{{Columbine}} and the true reasons for it).

The
film is noted for its use of long tracking shots, extended sequences with little or no dialogue and a cast comprising mostly of non-actors, giving it a disconnected and ethereal quality.



* BigDamnHeroes: Subverted. [[spoiler:The film very consciously sets up Benny as a potential hero as he goes looking for the killers, only for him to turn a corner and get swiftly killed]].



* ShaggyDogStory: Benny's part. He gets focus by having a chapter named after him but his story amounts to nothing. See TheStoic below.

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* ShaggyDogStory: Benny's part. He [[spoiler:He gets focus by having a chapter named after him him, but his story amounts to nothing. See TheStoic below.After he helps Acadia, he goes looking for the shooters, setting up viewer expectations that he can thwart them, only for him to round the corner and be shot point blank by Eric with no fuss or fanfare.]]



** The camera follows calm, muscular Benny as he helps Acadia and goes looking for the shooters, setting up viewer expectations that he can thwart them [[spoiler:only for him to round the corner and be shot point blank by Eric with no fuss or fanfare.]]

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** The camera follows calm, muscular Benny as he helps Acadia and goes looking for the shooters, setting up viewer expectations that he can thwart them [[spoiler:only for him to round the corner and be shot point blank by Eric with no fuss or fanfare.]]Benny.



* SuddenlyShouting: When Eric finds the principal, [[DissonantSerenity he first calmly greets him]]. After the principal cowers in fear and pleads with him to put the gun down, Eric fires into the ceiling and screams "I ain't putting SHIT down!".

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* SuddenlyShouting: When Eric finds the principal, [[DissonantSerenity he first calmly greets him]]. After the principal cowers in fear and pleads with him to put the gun down, Eric fires into the ceiling and screams "I ain't putting SHIT down!".down!"


[[quoteright:280:https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/elephant_9665.jpg]]

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[[quoteright:280:https://static.[[quoteright:300:https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/elephant_9665.jpg]]
org/pmwiki/pub/images/rsz_740full.png]]
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* SuddenlyShouting: When Eric finds the principal, [[DissonantSerenity he first calmly greets him]]. After the principal cowers in fear and pleads with him to put the down down, Eric fires into the ceiling and screams "I ain't putting SHIT down!".

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* SuddenlyShouting: When Eric finds the principal, [[DissonantSerenity he first calmly greets him]]. After the principal cowers in fear and pleads with him to put the down gun down, Eric fires into the ceiling and screams "I ain't putting SHIT down!".


* {{Jerkass}}: The principal of the school gives John trouble for being late even though the only reason he was late was because his alcoholic father was in no condition to drive him. Furthermore if Eric is to be believed he did nothing to stop the school's bullying problem. [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold This is downplayed though]], because during the shooting he directs several students to safety and tries to talk Eric down when confronted.

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* {{Jerkass}}: The principal of the school gives John trouble ''detention'' for being late even though the only reason he was late was because his alcoholic father was in no condition to drive him. Furthermore Furthermore, if Eric is to be believed believed, he did nothing to stop the school's bullying problem.problem and may have taken part in it as well. [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold This is downplayed though]], because during the shooting he directs several students to safety and tries to talk Eric down when confronted.


* InTheBack: THe teacher gets it from Erix in the corridor.

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* InTheBack: THe The teacher gets it from Erix in the corridor.back from Eric.

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* InTheBack: THe teacher gets it from Erix in the corridor.


* ActionFilmQuietDramaScene: Inverted. The majority of the movie is made up of tracking shots of different students during a normal school day, with only the last twenty minutes or so devoted to the shooting itself.



* ActionFilmQuietDramaScene: Inverted. The majority of the movie is made up of tracking shots of different students during a normal school day, with only the last twenty minutes or so devoted to the shooting itself.


* AnyoneCanDie: Out of all the characters introduced, [[spoiler:John]] seems to be one of only two that survives considering [[spoiler:he happened to be outside when he saw Alex and Eric enter, and tried to warn others to not go inside]]. The other is [[spoiler:Acadia]], who is almost killed [[spoiler:because she has a panic attack when the shooting starts, only to be led outside by Benny]]. [[spoiler:Alex's]] fate is left ambiguous after the movie as well.



* KillEmAll: Out of all the characters introduced, [[spoiler:John]] seems to be one of only two that survives considering [[spoiler:he happened to be outside when he saw Alex and Eric enter, and tried to warn others to not go inside]]. The other is [[spoiler:Acadia]], who is almost killed [[spoiler:because she has a panic attack when the shooting starts, only to be led outside by Benny]]. [[spoiler:Alex's]] fate is left ambiguous after the movie as well.


* AmateurCast: Most of the students are played by non-actors or very new actors.


* AdultsAreUseless: Teachers and staff fail to spot or intervene when Alex and Eric are bullied, and the parents of the gunmen never suspect their children's plans.



* AsLongAsThereIsEvil: Discussed. Eric decides to let the principal live, and lectures to him that he should take great care not to neglect the kids of the next generations, because if he does, there ''will'' be others like him and Alex, and they might not be as merciful.



* DissonantSerenity: Alex takes the time to calmly sit down and take a sip of water in the middle of the shooting, and once Eric finds him his only response is to joke about how it's probably tainted with an STD. This moment aside the both of them act far too calm for comfort while actively shooting their fellow teens.



* IdiotBall: The delivery man had to have been aware he was delivering an automatic rifle, and he left it in the hands of two teenage boys.

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* IdiotBall: IdiotBall:
**
The delivery man had to have been aware he was delivering an automatic rifle, and he left it in the hands of two teenage boys.



* {{Leitmotif}}: [[Music/LudwigVanBeethoven Beethoven]]'s ''Fur Elise''.

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** John sees Alex and Eric enter the school dressed in combat attire and carrying big black duffel bags, and what's more they tell him "some heavy shit's about to go down" when he asks them what's up. Instead of ''calling the police'', he runs around telling random bystanders not to enter the school without giving a reason, causing almost everyone to shrug his warnings off until the shooting is well underway.
* {{Leitmotif}}: [[Music/LudwigVanBeethoven Beethoven]]'s ''Fur Elise''.{{Jerkass}}: The principal of the school gives John trouble for being late even though the only reason he was late was because his alcoholic father was in no condition to drive him. Furthermore if Eric is to be believed he did nothing to stop the school's bullying problem. [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold This is downplayed though]], because during the shooting he directs several students to safety and tries to talk Eric down when confronted.



* {{Leitmotif}}: [[Music/LudwigVanBeethoven Beethoven]]'s ''Fur Elise''.



* TheStoic: The camera follows calm, muscular Benny as he helps Acadia and goes looking for the shooters, setting up viewer expectations that he can thwart them [[spoiler:only for him to round the corner and be shot point blank by Eric with no fuss or fanfare.]]

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* TheStoic: TheStoic:
**
The camera follows calm, muscular Benny as he helps Acadia and goes looking for the shooters, setting up viewer expectations that he can thwart them [[spoiler:only for him to round the corner and be shot point blank by Eric with no fuss or fanfare.]]]]
** Alex is remarkably flat in his emotional responses, [[spoiler:showing no emotion at all after killing his partner in crime]].
* SuddenlyShouting: When Eric finds the principal, [[DissonantSerenity he first calmly greets him]]. After the principal cowers in fear and pleads with him to put the down down, Eric fires into the ceiling and screams "I ain't putting SHIT down!".


* TooDumbTooLive: What was Benny thinking when he walked up to Eric in the corridor? Perhaps he was a DeathSeeker.

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* TooDumbTooLive: TooDumbToLive: What was Benny thinking when he walked up to Eric in the corridor? Perhaps he was a DeathSeeker.

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