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Essay on Elephant, a Film Analysis

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The Tragedy of Columbine was caused by the social injustices inflicted upon two students; Alex Frost and Eric Deulen. This is the message Gus Van Sant portrays in his movie `Elephant.' These two characters are not part of the `in crowd' and are picked upon in school to the point that they come to school with guns. Present day schools are treating this issue incorrectly by not trying to relinquish the social injustices of high school.

Many schools today now completely cut off the school from the outside world in order to stop tragedies like Columbine from occurring. Security sets up controlled entry points on campus allowing only those they approve to enter. In theory this plan will restrict students from bringing guns to school. The new theory of tighter security equals less guns is an incorrect address to the problems of society that truly need to be dealt with.

`Elephant' portrays many social evils. Starting with the opening of John McFarland riding in an automobile with his obviously intoxicated father. John cries when he gets to a room where he is alone, showing that John is facing hardship in his own home. Many high school students are facing these same problems and Sant tries to show this in his portrayal of John.

Sant chooses random high school students and grants them the freedom to act as they want in this film. Not only do the students make the movie, but they add to it a humanization. Sant does not choose big name actors, he wants the audience to be moved by a character that they now as nobody else but the character they are playing in the film. We can not identify with a big name actor that we have seen play numerous other parts in movies. This strategy of Sant's is very a on target approach to captivatin...


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...tudent that gets along with everyone.

The tragic hero is Eric. Eric's tragic flaw is forgiveness, he has none. He kills all the students who picked on him and even his own lover Alex. The reason he kills Alex is not understood. In the finally Eric has Nathan and Kelly cornered in the freezer with an M-4 pointed at them. This is the close to the movie, leaving the audience with a huge impression of what can occur when people are picked upon.

Gus Van Sant's film creates a heavy impression of what can occur when students reach their limit. Some students can not deal with the social injustices of high school. Others deal with these injustices by picking upon other students, in the long run the whole system must be changed to deal with these issues. Schools must change their policies and develop new strategies to combat the social injustices occurring today.



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