Messages in ‘Elephant’
February 12, 2004
This is a very short play concerning the relevance of the new film (playing this past weekend at the Wheeler Opera House) by Gus Van Sant titled “Elephant”:
We join two ghosts in the balcony of the Wheeler Opera House who have just finished seeing the film “Elephant” …
Larry: (Larry is distressed, sweaty and annoyed.) Brother! I have wasted my time! What was the point of that?
Anthony: C’mon Larry! That was one of the most important films of the year. Finally, I’m seeing a film that has something to say, a film that pushes us to think and to question that indelible event that took place at Columbine High School.
Mr. Van Sant’s film does what most remarkable things do, which is to shake us up, to make us feel uncomfortable, to push us to understand what is going on in our time, and ultimately to ignite discussion and awareness of the problems that are behind violence such as this shooting. This film should be shown in high school classrooms. We need to be tougher and to face our problems.
And to think the film doesn’t provide any answers is absurd, because there isn’t an exact one. It’s like saying there’s one solution for terrorism. It’s not that easy, and the film, if you are really watching, provides countless suggestions about the problems inherent in America, such as the violence in video games. (The whole film was shot in the one-point perspective and has the detached feeling of watching or playing a video game.)
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Also, it shows the cruelty with which high school students treat each other, the amazingly easy accessibility of military assault weapons, and the responsibility and role of parents with their children. (Pause)
Yeah, Larry, “Elephant” was difficult to watch, and I don’t even know if I could watch it if I had a direct connection to the actual real-life event, but seeing the film has made the Columbine event and all of its problems and causes seem much deeper than if I had not seen the film. It didn’t provide any solutions, but it made me think about some.