Analysis of Elephant, by Gus Van Sant

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In today’s society many different forms of art constantly surround us. The music blaring through your headphones, the advertisements we come across, and even the buildings peering high above the New York skyline can all be considered art. One of the most popular mediums of art in present time is filmmaking. Film uses moving photographs to narrate a story, express emotions and convey ideas. The unique aspect of the art of film is that it allows the viewer to become its subject or characters and experience their situations as they are occurring. Gus Van Sant uses this characteristic to his advantage in the 2003 film “Elephant”. Elephant tries to capture the actual and unseen events of the tragic Columbine Massacre in attempts to make sense of a senseless act, while at the same time being true to its senselessness. (Edelstein) On April 20th, 1999, two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, launched a deadly assault on Columbine High School in Littleton Colorado. Armed with a rifle, shotguns, and numerous explosives they wreaked havoc on their school. In the end twenty-four people were injured and fifteen, including the shooters, were dead. It was a tragedy that echoed around the country and will be remembered as the worst school shooting in American history. Gus Van Sant took this incident and decided to interpret it in his own artistic vision. Elephant is not a drama; it is not a documentary. It is just a free-floating meditation on the tragedy. The film puts you right in the moment, in real time, with the victims and the killers while doubling back on itself, making chronological jumps and repeating its narrative from different perspectives. It is purposely made to be vague so as to leave the viewer perplexed but, at the same ... ... middle of paper ... with guns. (Bradshaw) Van Sant's Elephant is a compelling response to this dreadful event and is the most disturbing film Gus Van Sant has made so far. It is not a drama; it is not a documentary. It is just a free-floating meditation on a tragedy. Works Cited Bradshaw, Peter. "Elephant." The Guardian News and Media Limited, 30 Jan. 2004. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. Edelstein, David. "The Kids in the Hall." Slate Magazine. The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company, 24 Oct. 2003. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. Elephant. Dir. Gus Van Sant. Perf. Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, and John Robinson. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2003. DVD. Hattenstone, Simon. "All the World's an Art School." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited, 23 Jan. 2004. Web. 28 Nov. 2013. "Jefferson County Sheriff's Report." CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2013.

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