A man is very unhappy with his life, but when he will be diagnosed with a rare syndrome, everything will change.
2012 | 5 - 10 | Drama | Live-Action | Spain | Supernatural
Manuel is a middle-aged man who’s profoundly unhappy with his life. He’s been working for 25 years in the same company, and got no promotion. His wife ignores him, his children are like strangers and he has one friend – that he hates. His existence goes by with indolence, until one day, as a result of a persistent headache, he’s diagnosed with a rare syndrome: in no time he will turn into an elephant.
This shocking revelation and his rapid metamorphosis into the clumsy animal will give a jolt to its existence. As a modern and tragicomic Gregor Samsa, he’ll see his family drift away, his daily activities become more and more difficult, ending in a total alienation from society and life. This transformation, however, will perhaps be the only cathartic and liberating solution for his deep discontent .
Narrated in first person by the protagonist, this surreal story of alienation and catharsis oscillates in between two opposite and coexisting tones: on one hand, the situation is always on the verge of becoming grotesque, on the other the intimate and emotional impact of the narrative is strong (als thanks to Alexander Desplat’s leitmotiv, borrowed from the Fantastic Mr. Fox score).
This is the peculiarity of ‘Elephant‘. The constant shift between comedy and tragedy is handled very well by the director, who never allows the protagonist to become a bogeyman to get easy laughs. The absurdity of the fact that we are witnessing the transformation of a man in an elephant becomes secondary, as we realize that it’s none other than the extreme portrait of the deep existential distress of the protagonist.
The mix of high and low influences put together by Pablo Larcuen is interesting. The obvious Kafkaesque inspiration is the main trait of the story, but the director has taken bits from popular culture and cinema history, combining everything in an original and modern way. It’s impossible not to think of David Lynch’s Elephant Man, explicitly mentioned in a witty joke in which the protagonist asks if he’ll become like the protagonist of the film. But no, he is answered, he’ll esemble more Babar the elephant. Sad and funny, art films and children’s cartoons , everything is incredibly balanced and maintains its consistency. There are also similarities with Spike Jonze’s style, it’s difficult not to think of the Daft Punk’s Da Funk. The anthropomorphic dog who wanders the streets of New York becomes a sad and alienated elephant, but the night scenes of the two solitary “monsters” recall each other.
Pablo Larcuen is a young Spanish talent . His first short , the crazy Mi Amigo Invisible, debuted at Sundance 2010 and was included in the shortlist for that year’s Oscars. Elephant won the award for best short film at 2012 SITGES. Has just made his first feature film, the horror , the first to be filmed entirely with an i-phone.
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