Elephant’s Long Shots

As seen in the movie Elephant, Van Sant’s uses long tracking shots style not normally viewed in Hollywood Blockbusters. Some of his shots only featuring a character or two span for several minutes long being viewed from a single perspective. According to Murphy in his article The Temporal Complexity of Elephant these long takes are a method Van Sant uses in order to make the passage of time during the events we are witnessing feel approximate to the actual passage of time. He does so in an attempt to emphasize the duration of the events. Murphy also points out that Van Sant explains by drawing out the duration of the scene it effects the way you accept you events and makes the information you absorb more devastating.



I think the film benefited from these long shots in multiple ways, as Van Sant pointed out I feel it does make scenes have a greater impact. This greater impact is that the scene feels more like an account of events, by eliminating cuts from the scenes it adds to the reality of what is happening as though you were there yourself rather than seeing it through the camera lens. This kind of ultra-realism is something that indie movies strive for often and is one of the fundamental differences between Indie and Hollywood films, which helps distinguish this film as indie.

Murphy, J. J. Me and You and Memento and Fargo: How Independent Screenplays Work. New York: Continuum, 2007. Print



3 thoughts on “Elephant’s Long Shots

  1. I believe your statement about the long shots having a realism affect is very true. It does make the audience feel like they are more so a part of the scene themselves and they can get a better understanding of the scene. However, I just believe the long shots were almost distracting and since they were so long sometimes it lost viewers attention throughout the film.

  2. You make a really good argument about long shots. One thing that I did notice was during his long shots music or some sort of static was always heard during those scenes. Why do you think that was? Was it to keep the viewer focused, entertained, or to intensify the mood?

    I think that drawing out those scenes did intensify the moment, but it almost made me a bit impatient. We all knew the shooting was going to take place, but it was a matter of when, and how much longer Gus Van Sant was going to make us wait. If I didn’t know the time layout of the film, the waiting probably would have driven me crazy!

  3. I believe you are right to say that these long tracking shots do a great job in terms of bringing the viewer closer towards the realistic side of these time gaps. However, I think these shots also do a great deal for the viewer to easily identify and read into these individual characters.

    Van Sant seems to place the viewer in a very close personal range in relation to these characters. Not only do these long takes evoke the feeling of time and suspense, they also encourage the viewer to recognize and identify more easily with these characters and their emblems.

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