A2P Cinema 100 Films of the Aughts
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ELEPHANT
2003 - Gus Van Sant - United States / Germany
49

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One of the truest definitions of cinema as an art form is capturing emotions through images. With the two feature films, Gerry released in 2002, and even more so with this film, Gus Van Sant has represented the truth and beauty of cinema. Elephant is a deeply emotional and thought-provoking experience. Particularly in it's approach. Van Sant doesn't focus on the motivations or reason for the killings, but instead leaves for interpretation. Ultimately the film, through its symbolic images and sound, is a film asking why no one prepared or expected such a horrific tragedy, such as this, to happen. It's much easier to point blame, but Elephant is a film that is willing to listen, understand, and discover. Much like Van Sant's idol, Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr's 1994 eight-hour epic Satantango, Elephant is structured in a unique, multi-layered narrative that consistently follows several characters and times (sometimes overlapping). What results is a flawlessly executed and involving connection as we witness the lives and fate of the characters. Using a mostly improvised script and all non-professional actors,the film perfectly portrays an authentic High School environment and attitude. Also, the mood is captivating and rather creepy. Through Van Sant's long takes and free flowing camera, there's a haunting undertone of doom within the films atmosphere. Also adding to the mood is the brilliant use of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata (which is one of the most moving pieces of music ever created). Elephant is a deeply emotional, sad, and important film of undeniable power.
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