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Elephant (2003)

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Several ordinary high school students go through their daily routine as two others prepare for something more malevolent.


Gus Van Sant


Gus Van Sant
3,803 ( 511)
8 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alex Frost ... Alex
Eric Deulen ... Eric
John Robinson ... John McFarland
Elias McConnell ... Elias
Jordan Taylor Jordan Taylor ... Jordan
Carrie Finklea ... Carrie
Nicole George Nicole George ... Nicole
Brittany Mountain Brittany Mountain ... Brittany
Alicia Miles Alicia Miles ... Acadia
Kristen Hicks ... Michelle
Bennie Dixon Bennie Dixon ... Benny
Nathan Tyson ... Nathan
Timothy Bottoms ... Mr. McFarland
Matt Malloy ... Mr. Luce
Ellis Williams Ellis Williams ... GSA Teacher (as Ellis E. Williams)


A day in the lives of a group of average teenage high school students. The film follows every character and shows their daily routines. However two of the students plan to do something that the student body won't forget. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An ordinary high school day. Except that it's not.


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent content, language, brief sexuality and drug use - all involving teens | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | German

Release Date:

14 November 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Elefante See more »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$93,356, 26 October 2003, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,227,000, 28 December 2003

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$10,020,543, 8 January 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Almost all the kids in this film are non-actors, and their real first names are used. See more »


At the beginning of the film, when John tells his dad that he wants to take over driving he walks over to the drivers side of the car. When he opens the door to get his dad out, 2 members of the crew can be seen in the reflection of the wing mirror. See more »


[first lines]
Mr. McFarland: What? Hey! Where are you going? Come here.
John McFarland: Oh, my God, Dad.
Mr. McFarland: Get in the car. You're gonna be late for school. Come on.
John McFarland: Mom's gonna kill you.
See more »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Grease 2 (2016) See more »


Meeting of International Conference of Technological Psychiatry
Written and Performed by William S. Burroughs
Courtesy of The William S. Burroughs Trust
See more »

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User Reviews

All i can say is "wow!" Its all i could say when the credits rolled, its all i can say now!
12 May 2004 | by Ben_CheshireSee all my reviews

(Caution: this is one of those movies that its best not to read about before you see it. Not because there are major plot points to spoil or twists, but because you'll be more impressed by it if you discover it for yourself. So much as i'd love for you to read what i have to say about it, please come back afterwards!)

This film unfolds with the delicate beauty of a flower. Van Sant has made so much commercial rubbish of recent years (Finding Forrester, Psycho, Good Will Hunting), that you forget what a surprising, original artist he can be. The second most original project Van Sant has made, My Own Private Idaho, pales in comparison to the significance of Elephant. I haven't seen a movie in a long time where i've thought "this is an important film." This, at last, is an important subject for cinema.

You know you've seen an incredible film when while you're watching it you forget all the other movies you've ever seen, and say to yourself "ah, so THIS is cinema, i never knew!" And three days later you can't think about anything else.

The school in this film becomes a live universe. We follow one character around, spend some time with them, so we feel that what happens to them is happening to us, and we switch to someone else and spend some time with them. They all have names, they are all living breathing people. Through suggestion, Van Sant creates an atmosphere where we feel that this school is a living, breathing environment, a world unto itself, and we feel the separate humanity of each member of it. We feel Van Sant could just as well have chosen to follow any of the other thousand members of the school.

Twenty minutes into the film, one character heads out of the school and sees two boys with army gear on carrying big loaded bags. He asks them what they're doing, and one of them tells him: "Get the f**k out of here and don't come back. Some s**t's going down."

I've never seen such an original treatment of structure and style that serves the story. We follow each of these characters around the school in real time, so certain portions of each of their stories are given to us piece by piece. I won't say any more, and i don't want to spoil my memory of this beautiful film by putting it into any more words. Go out and see it. You'll never forget it.

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