Director Gus Van Sant’s 2003 film Elephant was the winner of three awards at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival. The film was nominated for six other awards and won two titles. Elephant is a fictional story that depicts seemingly ordinary high school students Alex and Eric, who calmly plan and carry out a mass execution at their high school in suburban Portland. The boys are shown calmly watching Nazi films and ordering firearms over the Internet. They intricately plan the details of their attack, planting bombs throughout the school, just as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did during the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
Throughout the film, Alex and Eric are shown being bullied by jocks. On the day of the attack, they warn a classmate, John, who attempts to stop others from entering the building but to no avail. Unlike the Columbine shooting, the film ends with no resolution, rather than with the boys committing suicide. Except for the scenes of bullying and a shot in the shower in which the boys share a kiss (suggesting they were suffering from identity issues), Van Sant offers no specific explanation for the shooting. Like the idea of blindfolded people feeling an elephant, the film shows a variety of perspectives on the lives of so-called average teens.
Some critics noted that Red Lake, Minnesota, school shooter Jeff Weise was a big fan of the film and asserted that it had influenced him in his decision to engage in a shooting rampage at his school.
- Elephant: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0363589/