ELEPHANT’s story takes place on a beautiful autumn day in an American high school. We follow ten students through the never ending corridors and parks of the campus. They talk about football and each other and do their homework. Each student has his own opinion of, and experiences from, school: friendly, stimulating, boring, difficult, lonely, traumatic. After a while you get the sense that something is not quite right – something starts to deviate from the idealized image.
ELEPHANT was the first film ever to win both the Palm d’Or for best film and the award for best director at Cannes. And it was no surprise: After the more conventional FINDING FORRESTER (2000), PSYCHO (1998) and GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997) Van Sant returns to work with original material, something he intentionally has avoided since MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO (1991).
And we’ll just have to wait and see if Eric Harris’ diary gets a place in the history books: ”I hate the fucking world […] If you recall your history, the Nazis came up with a ’final solution’ to the Jewish problem: kill them all. Well in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I say ‘Kill mankind.’ No one should survive.”
Gus Van Sant
Gus Van Sant was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1952. He got his education at the Rhode Island School of Design, and earned his living making advertising for a company in New York. After moving to Portland, he made several short films and the 45 minute long ALICE IN HOLLYWOOD (1981), before directing the critically acclaimed MALA NOCHE in 1985 – which is regarded as his feature film debut. In 1989 he made DRUGSTORE COWBOY, a film about drug addicts on the run.
He then moved in the direction of more conventional Hollywood films with EVEN COWGIRLS GET THE BLUES (1994). With TO DIE FOR(1995) he returned to the dark side. In 1997 he makes the critically acclaimed GOOD WILL HUNTING, but again follows up with more conventional films: PSYCHO (1998) and FINDING FORRESTER (200). With GERRY (2002), however, Van Sant is back with a far more experimental approach, an approach which is continued in ELEPHANT (2003).