Water for Elephants (film)
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (July 2014)|
|Water for Elephants|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Francis Lawrence|
|Produced by||Gil Netter
Andrew R. Tennenbaum
|Screenplay by||Richard LaGravenese|
|Based on||Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Edited by||Alan Edward Bell|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Water for Elephants is a 2011 American romantic drama film directed by Francis Lawrence. Richard LaGravenese wrote the screenplay, which was based on Sara Gruen's 2006 novel of the same name. It stars Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz.
The film was released in the United States and Canada on April 22, 2011, and received mixed to positive reviews from film critics; it garnered a "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based upon aggregated reviews, and a rating of "mixed or average reviews" at Metacritic.
The film opens in present day, when the proprietor of a small traveling circus (portrayed in the movie by Circus Vargas) encounters an elderly man, Jacob, who has apparently become detached from his nursing home group, which attended the circus earlier that day. They strike up a conversation and Jacob reveals that he had a career in the circus business and was present during one of the most infamous circus disasters of all time and the circus owner asks him to share his story.
Most of the film then takes place in a flashback to the era of the Great Depression. 23-year-old Polish American Jacob is a Cornell veterinary medicine student on the brink of a promising career as a veterinarian. Unfortunately, during his last final exam, he is informed that his parents were killed in a car crash. His father has left huge debts, and the bank was foreclosing on Jacob's home. Feeling there is no point in returning to school, and having no home to go to, he jumps onto a passing train where he meets Camel.
In the morning, Jacob discovers that he jumped on the Benzini Brothers Circus train. He sees a beautiful woman, Marlena Rosenbluth, and meets August, the circus owner, head animal trainer, and Marlena's husband. Jacob reveals he studied veterinary science and has noticed a problem with Silver, the star horse in the show. August agrees to hire Jacob as a vet for the circus animals after Jacob tells August that Silver has laminitis, is in terrible pain and will soon be unable to walk, never mind perform.
August instructs Jacob to "fix" Silver and keep him performing as long as possible. But Jacob cannot bear to see Silver's suffering and takes it upon himself to put Silver down. August is furious with Jacob's decision to euthanize Silver against orders. To show Jacob who is boss, he threatens to throw him from the moving train — telling him that an animal's suffering is nothing compared to a man's, and that Jacob must carry out all of August's future orders if he wishes to keep his job.
August eventually procures Rosie the elephant as Silver's replacement. He is initially thrilled and invites Jacob to his car for dinner and cocktails with him and Marlena. Jacob — clearly attracted to Marlena — watches uncomfortably as the married couple flirt and dance in front of him, but later in the evening becomes clear that their relationship is complicated. August is possessive, jealous and sometimes rough with Marlena.
In the next few weeks, August becomes frustrated when Rosie the elephant seems impossible to train. August is brutal with Rosie, beating her when she fails to follow orders. After one such beating that August gave to Rosie when she ran away after fleeing from the event and dropping Marlena, Jacob realizes that the elephant was trained in Polish and only understands Polish commands. After that, Rosie performs beautifully and the circus enjoys a short period of success. While working closely together to train Rosie, Jacob and Marlena fall in love. After August discovers this, he cruelly taunts the two. Later that night, Marlena discovers that August plans to throw Jacob from the train and they run away together, hiding in a local hotel. Soon after consummating their relationship, they are ambushed by August's henchmen who drag Marlena away and beat up Jacob.
Jacob returns to the circus to find Marlena. After Marlena finds Jacob she tells him that his friends Walter (Kinko) and Camel were thrown from the train and killed. Several circus employees have become fed up with August's murderous cruelty and unleash their revenge by unlocking all the animals' cages while the big top tent is jam-packed with an audience enjoying Marlena and Rosie's performance. Jacob attempts to find Marlena in the chaos and August attacks him. When Marlena tries to stop August from beating Jacob, he turns his fury on her and attempts to choke her, while one of August's henchmen continues beating Jacob. Two circus workers save Jacob just in time. Lying on the ground, bloodied and beaten, he looks up and sees Rosie hit August on the back of the head with a metal spike, killing him.
Back in the present, Jacob explains what happened afterward: he returned to Cornell, took his last exam, and finished his degree. He and Marlena took several of the horses and Rosie and got jobs with Ringling Brothers — he as a vet and she continuing to perform with the animals. They married and had five children and kept Rosie until her death many years later. Eventually, he took a job as a vet at the Albany Zoo and Marlena died peacefully in her bed at an old age. He convinces the circus owner to whom he is telling his story to hire him in the ticket booth. The circus owner agrees and Jacob states that he has finally come home.
- Reese Witherspoon as Marlena Rosenbluth
- Robert Pattinson as Jacob Jankowski
- Hal Holbrook as older Jacob Jankowski
- Christoph Waltz as August Rosenbluth
- Tai as Rosie, the elephant
- James Frain as Rosie's caretaker
- Paul Schneider as Charlie O'Brien
- Ken Foree as Earl
- Tim Guinee as Diamond Joe
- Mark Povinelli as Kinko/Walter
- Scott MacDonald as Blackie
- Jim Norton as Camel
- Richard Brake as Grady
- Sam Anderson as Mr. Hyde
- John Aylward as Mr. Ervin
- Uggie as Queenie, the terrier
On a budget of $38 million, filming began on May 20, 2010 in Los Angeles, Piru, Fillmore in California; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Kensington and Chickamauga in Georgia. The filming wrapped up on August 4, 2010. This is the second time Witherspoon and Pattinson have costarred together as they had filmed a deleted scene from 2004's Vanity Fair in which he was her estranged son. Reshoots for the film were scheduled for mid January 2011.
The stampede scenes were digitally composed.
Water for Elephants has received mixed to positive reviews; review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 61% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 186 reviews, with an average score of 6.1 out of 10. The critical consensus is: "It's a tale tastefully told and beautifully filmed, but Water for Elephants suffers from a pronounced lack of chemistry between its leads." Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 reviews from film critics, the film has a rating score of 52% based on 35 reviews.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four, stating: "This is good sound family entertainment, a safe PG-13 but not a dumb one, and it's a refreshing interlude before we hurtle into the summer blockbuster season." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review. He stated: "The Reese Witherspoon-Robert Pattinson film will please fans of Sara Gruen’s best seller, but it lacks the vital spark that would have made the drama truly compelling on the screen."
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times gave the film a positive review, stating that "despite the stars' lack of romantic chemistry, there's much to enjoy in this cinematic retelling of Sara Gruen's big top bestseller, starting with the spectacular circus setting."
Richard Corliss of Time magazine stated: "The proceedings get so slow and saccharine that viewers will relish the film's moments of redeeming idiocy. In one of them, Marlena whispers to Jacob, 'Bring Rosie to my tent and don't tell anyone' — as if the roustabouts wouldn't notice a 12-ft.-tall, 10,000-lb. creature striding down the midway. Granted, they'd also take a look at his handler, the divoon Robert Pattinson; but Rosie has a pretty strong odor too, and that's what will stick to you after seeing Water for Elephants." James Berardinelli, film critic for ReelViews,wrote: "There's an old-fashioned vibe to Water for Elephants; it's the kind of movie Hollywood once turned out with regularity but rarely does anymore."
Some critics, however, praised the film's cast. Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle stated that Pattinson succeeded at holding his own at the center of a major feature and that Witherspoon, while an odd fit for the role, was "actress enough to make it work." He continued: "the affectionate but turbulent dynamic among [Christoph] Waltz, Pattinson and Witherspoon is endlessly watchable." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also said that Pattinson and Witherspoon "smoldered" under the "golden gaze of Rodrigo Prieto's camera."
Water for Elephants was released in theaters on April 22, 2011. In the United States and Canada, Water for Elephants was released theatrically in 2,817 conventional theaters. The film grossed $6,924,487 during its opening day on April 22, 2011, with midnight screenings in 2,817 locations. Overall the film made $16,842,353 and debuted at #3 on its opening weekend. On its second weekend, it dropped to #4 and grossed $9,342,413 - $3,313 per theater. By its third weekend it dropped down to #6 and made $6,069,603 - $2,322 per theater. As of September 27, 2011 its final gross is $58,709,717 in the United States and $58,385,185 overseas, for a total of $117,094,902.
|NewNowNext Awards||Next Must See Movie||Nominated|
|2011 Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie – Drama||Nominated|
|Choice Movie Actor – Drama||Robert Pattinson||Won|
|Choice Movie Actress – Drama||Reese Witherspoon||Nominated|
|38th People's Choice Awards||Favorite Drama Movie||Won|
|Favorite Book Adaption||Nominated|
|Favorite Movie Actor||Robert Pattinson||Nominated|
|Favorite Movie Actress||Reese Witherspoon||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Original Score||James Newton Howard||Nominated|
|Best Art Direction and Production Design||Jack Fisk||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Jacqueline West||Won|
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Water for Elephants (film).|
- Official website
- Water for Elephants at the Internet Movie Database
- Water for Elephants at Box Office Mojo
- Water for Elephants at Rotten Tomatoes
- Water for Elephants at Metacritic