A pretty skeleton dressed in daub clothes – a review of ‘Water for Elephants’

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May 9, 2011 by Kuma

In fact – I’m in the muddle. Because two hours after watching ‘Water for elephants’ I actually have no idea what I should think about it. It wasn’t bad – in the sense aesthetics it was pretty good, indeed. Beautiful animals, lovely story and the demonic (as always) Christoph Waltz impressed but… was it enough?

I’m asking: what is this movie about? I mean – what is the sense of this? Seems like this sense has become lost between all the insufficient well-developed strands. Just as if the director, Francis Lawrence, wanted to show everything, without avoiding anything. Unfortunatelly, actually this made the movie featureless. Because we’ve got: a veterinary student of with perspectives and plans for the future and also a terrible accident in which his parents die, because of which he has to change all his life. We’ve also got the story of a woman, Marlena, a circus star, who has grown up in the circus; and a love story – of course, banned – of Marlena and Jacob; and the story of August, Marlena’s husband and owner of circus… And this everything against the not so beautiful and magic reality of work under the big top. But, unfortunatly, two hours wasn’t enough to play all these strands out.

The accident and Jacob’s grief after his parents’ death last… well, about three minutes. Maybe he was a little bit dicky and fretful later but seems like this everything was just a snap of fingers for him. I don’t mean than he should crack but, you know, maybe if he sacrificed a bit of attention to his emotions, they would be more natural. Everything happened so quickly that there wasn’t any time to cry or think. Jacob lost all his life and he took this up with silence… and it shouldn’t be like that.

We also have got story of Marlena. We know about her a lot of things, maybe even more than about Jacob but she’s so predictable and boring that she can only be vindicated by her love for animals which is, indeed, touching.

We have to only surmise what was wrong with August who had terrible rage attacks while he was almost ill-treating animals – and he was the owner of circus and main handler. Reportedly, in the book, everything was explained so if somebody wants to know something more, he has to read it.

And, actually, he was in my opinion, the most expressive character in this movie. But this couldn’t be different – after all it’s Cristoph Waltz. But, of course, even his strand couln’t be complete; like everything, it was cut in some place even if it had the potential for a really interesting story. Only the love story found closure but, for me, it was too predictable and the last pictures, in the end of the film, were almost pathetic.

It was nice, to show that even a circus, which is we associate with freedom, no-rules, almost magic, isn’t as pretty as we think. Maltreatment of animals, no money for their livelihood and terrible rules of survival. This everything almost made an impression that the big tent is a wild, cruel place in which “everyone works for themselves until they fall dead” like said Marlena.

From pretty things – Rosie, the female elephant, which was so wonderful with her reacting only for orders pronounced in Polish. Well – here I have to say something about the actor’s Polish language. I’m sorry but it was funny. I understand – not everyone has to have brouge but they can try to sound like… half-Poles. And it was very, very artificial.

And now… what actually is this movie about?

For me, really, it’s about nothing. Just pretty picture with a love story and a lot of strands but nothing special. Maybe in some time I’ll understand it or find something special in this movie but for now I don’t see anything like this.

Less emotions, less end strands, less true – a pretty skeleton with beautiful perspectives, unfortunatly dressed in daub clothes.

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