Elephant: Unwritten

   Since its birth independent film has adopted the image and feel different from that of hollywood. Gus Van Sant’s Elephant(2003) is a prime example of how structurally, the film is very different from hollywood productions. This particular artifact however is unique in its range of creativity and unconventional dramatic structure due to the fact that Elephant lacked a finished clean cut script.  In my opinion, Van Sant chose to leave the script without a concrete structure to create more room for  agency toward the natural objective realism of the film. Van Sant essentially allowed his professional actors to more or less improvise in the direction of the scenes. This meant that the stereotypical patterns in the plot could be more malleable in a sense. The feel of the film can therefore throw us into suspense right away, turn or twist at anytime, or even end abruptly. 

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          In The Temporal Complexity of Elephant, Murphy describes to us how structurally this film goes against the normal layouts that exist in hollywood films. The film shows events prior to the shooting through the different perspectives of certain characters in order to simulate real time. Though this can seemingly cause confusion for the average movie goer, this brings to light the different experiences and emotions that the lens tries to capture. This sort of objective realism rarely exists in popular blockbusters and can be largely credited towards the film’s “unfinished” script. The first major turning point as Murphy describes it lies within the introduction of the film. As we start to see the young teenagers dressed in military gear we are thrown into the drivers seat of the film fairly early. In my opinion, Van Sant utilizes the uncompleted script much towards the advantage of the independent film. His use of improvisation within limitations and unconventional dramatic story patterns make for a truly realistic call to emotional action and awareness. 

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One thought on “Elephant: Unwritten

  1. I agree with you that Elephant does stray from typical Hollywood films in his aesthetic style, but do you feel like his play on stereotypes and use of Columbine to get out his social commentary is a bit Hollywood?

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