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Elephant

Director: Gus Van Sant

U.S.A.| 2003. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 81 min.


Gus Van Sant’s controversial response to the Columbine high school massacre was in part inspired by Alan Clarke’s excoriating ’80s TV film about the randomness of violence in Northern Ireland. Clarke’s ever-present tracking camera is well in evidence as Van Sant follows a day in the life of an ordinary high school unaware of the nightmare to come. By and by we’re introduced to the non-professional cast, occasionally doubling back in time to show exactly how paths converge when their heavily armed schoolmates stride in through the front doors and all hell breaks loose. The film insists its true responsibility is not to offer easy answers or a false sense of closure. Instead, there’s a sort of glazed horror as the bodies fall to the floor, a provocative detachment which leaves the rest up to us.

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