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Elephant – 6/10

By January 10, 2006 2 Comments
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Not to be confused with the Gus Van Sant film of the same name , Alan Clarke directed this mostly experimental film in 1989. At only 39 minutes, Elephant is a quick one. There is no music and almost no dialogue.

This film is mainly about the random killings in Northern Ireland. I know nothing about them, so I can’t comment on how historically valid it is. One thing is for sure though, the cinematography was beautiful. I wish I could have access to some of the dirty and unoccupied buildings in which the killings took place. Here is the main setup to the film: Follow an unnamed character around for a while, watch him shoot a seemingly random person, and then walk away. Do that about 18 times and you have Elephant.

The killings aren’t realistic. There is no struggling, screaming, pain, etc. The victims simply just fall to the ground still. And the killings are done in a methodical manner. It’s quick and painless, so it seems.

And there is no explanation of the murders. It is what it is. If you’ve seen the Van Sant film, then you’ll recognize the long tracking shots behind character’s heads. It still follows the same brutal aesthetic as Alan Clarke’s other films. But with a lot less drama. I wasn’t sucked into this film as much as his others. I appreciated his experiment though.

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