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Posted: February 9th, 2004, by Marceline Smith

Went to see Elephant last night. I’d heard quite a bit about it and seen the trailer and I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to like it but I was intrigued enough to see it to find out.

Even having been warned that nothing really happens for much of the film it was still surprising how little does happen. Whole scenes consist of one character walking down endless empty corridors, others show the sky slowly darkening or pause to watch a character doing something entirely ordinary. But this does a great job of introducing us to all the characters and the locations, giving us the time to get to know them and the school and showing that all days begin as ordinary days. Their paths round the school interweave with each other so that we see the same scenes from different viewpoints. The languid pace and lack of action gives you plenty time to look around and see glimpses of other rooms or hear snatches of conversations and classes.

Some boys sitting behind us seemed bored to tears by this, obviously expecting action and gun-totin’ excitement and unwilling to put any more thought into things. Their continual interjections of stupid noises during the quiet bits, jeering at ugly people and their horrified disgust at the gay kiss only seemed to add an extra level, this being probably the only aspect of high school that wasn’t included in the film. Their confused disbelief as the credits rolled after the sudden ending was a sheer delight to behold.

There’s such a sense of incident throughout, all these little moments that had no real importance to the story but made you understand and care about these characters and hope they’re not going to die – ‘Ugly girl’ Michelle cringingly changing after gym class, Eli developing his film, John’s ass-slapping photo moment. Even the scenes where Alex is walking endlessly through corridor after corridor seemingly frustrated by the lack of people left to shoot. There’s just so much time to notice things and to think about them and consider things. It’s interesting as well how we get so little closure – you’re left with a lot of questions about who died and what happened afterwards. When one of the main characters is stood outside of it all, you half-expect something terrible to happen, that as a main character he needs to go through some life or death situation. But it’s not an easy film and it’s not out to give you answers.

So go see if you like thinking. Don’t go if you get bored easily.

Marceline Smith

Marceline is the fierce, terrifying force behind diskant.net, laughing with disdain as she fires sharpened blades of sarcasm in all directions. Based in Scotland, her lexicon consists of words such as 'jings', 'aboot' and 'aye': our trained voice analysts are yet to decipher some of the relentless stream of genius uttered on a twenty-four hour basis. Marceline's hobbies include working too much and going out in bad weather.


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