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Ending of Gus van Sant's Elephant SPOILERS

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Ending of Gus van Sant's Elephant SPOILERS

Old 05-21-04, 05:59 PM
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Ending of Gus van Sant's Elephant SPOILERS

I just watched Elephant . I was a bit confused by the ending.
Spoiler:
Who was Eric (Alex's shooting counterpart) shot by? The shot seems to come from the rear. However, Alex seems completely unaffected. While I could understand his emotional detachment, the vagueness of who the shooter's identity bothers me.
Does anyone have any thoughts?
Old 05-21-04, 06:09 PM
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I think it was pretty clear that
Spoiler:
Shooter #1 shot shooter #2
. I'm sure as shoot that's what happened. Don't recall what direction it came from, but there was no one else around.
Old 05-21-04, 06:12 PM
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Originally posted by Crocker Jarmen
I think it was pretty clear that
Spoiler:
Shooter #1 shot shooter #2
. I'm sure as shoot that's what happened. Don't recall what direction it came from, but there was no one else around.
That's what I thought too.
Old 05-21-04, 07:50 PM
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That's a pretty good reasonable assumption.
Spoiler:
The only thing that threw me off is that there's no puncture wound in the front of shooter #2--only a splatter coming out the back of the body.
My guess would be this is related to the low budget nature of the movie.
Old 05-21-04, 07:51 PM
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Maybe the exit wound makes a bigger hole than the entry? I'm not familiar with guns and calibers to know for sure.
Old 05-21-04, 10:29 PM
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Spoiler:
definitely shot by his friend. at least that's the only thought that ran through my head. it looked like he tilted his gun toward his buddy and fired. getting shot from behind probably wouldn't splatter blood in the direction the bullet came from.

what was up with the black dude wandering the halls?
Old 05-22-04, 03:25 AM
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Originally posted by monkeyboy
Spoiler:
what was up with the black dude wandering the halls?
Spoiler:
I thought he was going to stop one of the killers, but I was incredibly disappointed when he got shot, and wondered what the point of that was. IIRC, in Columbine, one of the killers WAS stopped by another student.
Old 05-22-04, 01:49 PM
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Regarding Columbine, I'm pretty sure both of the killers shot eachother in the library after they were boxed in there. I don't think Gus van Sant intended to completely mirror Columbine.
Old 05-22-04, 04:37 PM
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Yes, the official statement on Columbine is that the shooters committed suicide, though there was speculation that Harris shot Klebold in the head before putting the shotgun in his mouth (somthing to do with left-hand, right-hand stuff). No students got in the way of them and they had free reign of the school. Police didn't enter the building until hours after they were dead.
Old 05-22-04, 07:06 PM
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First off, I don't know why everyone is using spoiler tags - the thread title already warns of spoilers.

Originally posted by Duder
Spoiler:
I thought he was going to stop one of the killers, but I was incredibly disappointed when he got shot, and wondered what the point of that was.
I think that was deliberately set up for a twist. If you felt disappointed you've probably been watching too many action films - this isn't a Die Hard movie where a jock takes charge and kicks ass.
Old 05-23-04, 02:49 PM
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Originally posted by monkeyboy

what was up with the black dude wandering the halls?
You think he might save the day but he never totally fails and gets killed. Just like the black guy in The Shining (a film that Elephant borrows heavily from).

Last edited by Pants; 06-15-04 at 07:39 PM.
Old 05-24-04, 12:29 AM
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MrN: It's not that I was expecting a Die Hard-style action film... it's that when I'm introduced to a named character and I follow him around for 5 minutes of movie time, I expect there to be some reason for it. In this case, the character neither saw anything I wouldn't have seen otherwise, nor did anything. I actually wouldn't have minded his demise if he had made more of an attempt, but he just walks, walks, walks, and then stands there for a second after the shooter turns to him. It was disappointing because the character, as written, was a waste of my time.
Old 05-24-04, 12:37 AM
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It's been awhile since I've seen the movie but didn't he help some of the students escape through a window before going back through the school.

I agree with what was said before about having the audience think he's going to save the day only to be killed himself since he could have escaped through the window too.
Old 05-24-04, 12:38 AM
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It's been awhile since I've seen the movie but didn't he help some of the students escape through a window before going back through the school.
Yeah, he helped the girl in the "gay and lesbian" discussion (who kissed the "main character" earlier in the film) leave the school out the window.
Old 05-24-04, 01:24 AM
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I didn't expect the black guy to 'save the day', it just didn't seem like a very believable character. I mean, who would act like that? I guess it's just that Van Sant takes such pains to develop all the characters in the film, except for him, and then he does something really stupid. It just didn't seem to fit.
Old 05-24-04, 06:43 AM
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after columbine, everyone was looking for meaning. why did this happen, what caused it? was it video games? bad parenting? i think the black student scene was there to illustrate the point of view that there is no simple meaning. the first half of elephant went to great lengths to single out characters wearing red. it was a visual metaphor that raised questions in the audience's collective mind as to the characters' fates -- will students in red be killed or spared? what is the meaning of red? as the shootings played out it became apparent that red held no significance as to who lived or died. the meaning was that there is no meaning. again with the black student, walking serenely thru the halls, escorting one student safely out the window, and
Spoiler:
suddenly executed seconds before he could have saved the principle
further commented on the purposeless endeavor of searching for meaning in the actions of killers for whom life held no meaning.

Last edited by cygnet74; 05-24-04 at 06:48 AM.
Old 05-24-04, 08:48 AM
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Spoiler:
I wanted to know if the photographer student got short or not. I hope not....I liked him. I also felt bad that the shy library girl got killed
Old 05-24-04, 12:16 PM
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Originally posted by LiquidSky
Spoiler:
I wanted to know if the photographer student got short or not. I hope not....I liked him. I also felt bad that the shy library girl got killed
What about the characters you didn't like who died? Is that somehow less tragic?
Old 05-24-04, 01:27 PM
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Originally posted by Pants
What about the characters you didn't like who died? Is that somehow less tragic?
Yes and no.

Yes because being emotionally tied to a person (or character) or even just identifying with that person creates deeper pangs than some anonymous victim. Least, that's been my experience.

No because a pragmatic view will realize the inherent tragedy in the event, including sympathy for the dead perpetrators.

More often than not these feelings overlap and Van Sant plays with this. By using so many high school archetypes and a distancing structure he plays with the viewers' sensibilities. Eventually something is going to cross the frame with which the viewer can identify. But Van Sant keeps pulling away to the bigger picture, refusing to let that identification overshadow what happens to the group.

Also, anyone see Zero Day (2002)? It's a fine companion piece to Elephant and a fine work on its own. Crudely said, it's Blair Witch Project meets Columbine: Two high school students record video diaries documenting their plans and actions leading up to a Columbine-type massacre. The unsettling aspect of this movie is the dark dark humor permeating frightening scenes because of the two leads' great charisma and self-conscious approach to their task (they constantly berate their predecessors' overt actions, keep their own tapes in a safe deposit box, and provide helpful hints to future perps).
Old 05-24-04, 01:31 PM
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If you take out all the long, tedious tracking shots of students walking around doing nothing (and there are plenty of them), this movie is about 55 minutes long.

Oh yeah, Gus, thanks for ending the movie during a pivotal scene for absolutely no reason.

I hope this new, pretentious, artsy Gus retires soon. I can't take much more of his crappy filmmaking. Talk about a waste of 80 minutes.
Old 05-24-04, 01:33 PM
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Originally posted by Pants
What about the characters you didn't like who died? Is that somehow less tragic?
Of course not. I just identifed with these characters more than the others. Where did I say that I disliked any of the characters?

Last edited by LiquidSky; 05-24-04 at 01:38 PM.
Old 05-24-04, 01:37 PM
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Originally posted by C.H.U.D.
I hope this new, pretentious, artsy Gus retires soon. I can't take much more of his crappy filmmaking. Talk about a waste of 80 minutes.
Are you trying to compare this with his mainstream Hollywood films? He started off making indie films: "Drugstore Cowboy", "My Own Private Idaho". These films have much more in common with "Elephant" and "Gerry" than "Good Will Hunting" and "Finding Forrester".
Old 05-24-04, 01:44 PM
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I didn't find his earlier films tedious and pretentious like the garbage he has been making recently.
Old 05-24-04, 02:04 PM
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Originally posted by C.H.U.D.
I didn't find his earlier films tedious and pretentious like the garbage he has been making recently.
Maybe that's because Van Sant's "artsy" resurgence consists mostly of aping Hungarian director Bela Tarr, whose own works are influenced by Eastern European (Miklos Jancos) and Russian (Tarkovsky) masters. Of course, these films are known for their languid paces and heavy philosphical connotation.

But how can you not call My Own Private Idaho pretentious? It's a more western style of filmmaking. It's got great energy and moves quickly but it's still just as pretentious as Elephant. If not more so because Van Sant was younger and possibly more full of himself (just an assumption).
Old 05-24-04, 02:12 PM
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Originally posted by C.H.U.D.


I hope this new, pretentious, artsy Gus retires soon. I can't take much more of his crappy filmmaking. Talk about a waste of 80 minutes.
You do realize you don't have to watch his films right? You'd be saving some money as well as some time.

Duder: I know what you're saying but thats exactly why it happened that way. When the character is followed around, the audience starts connecting it with him and its even more tragic when he is abruptly cut down. Its pointless in terms of plot, but is very much within the theme.

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