From the first sight the plot of the film seems to be rather simple. It tells about a usual day, full of lessons, football and everyday talks. The scene is set in an ordinary American school. However the film also emphasizes that each student has its own understanding of school-life. For some students it is a way to gain knowledge, for others school means troubles and loneliness in the first place. The plot develops quite ordinarily until terrifying events start happening and school life turns into a mess.
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The producer managed to select the cast for the film in 20 days. There was no need for professional actors. And probably for this reason there wasn’t even a definite script. He just offered the teenagers to play roles of them. The whole atmosphere of the film is penetrated with dreadful feeling of deep crisis in American society: youth and modern family. Van Sant confessed that the title for the film was influenced by a famous fable. It reflects one peculiar fact about American society: they prefer not to notice the most painful problems. The film shows no way out of sorrowful situation. Spectators are supposed to look for answers on their own.
The fact that this film was highly rewarded at a prestigious film festival shows that world of art is deeply concerned with the problem of violence in modern society.
Speaking about style of filming, I can’t help saying that it proved to be an excellent work of the producer with long lasting shots, amazing school sketching, tender sounds of “Moon sonata” and numerous deaths. No doubt it was admitted to be one of the most prominent films of this kind. A well-considered school allows children not only get knowledge, but also communicate, develop skills and talents. But who actually studies at such schools? The film doesn’t show an example of decent learning. Instead it mostly represents nervous and ill-mannered senior students. On the other hand there are usual teenagers who study sociology and go in for sports as well. The diversity of film characters is the very thing that captivates our attention most.
I should admit the film shows really bloody man-slaughter. And only one character has obvious signs of relief at the sight of it. It is Michelle, an odd girl who is too shy even to put on shorts. Her death actually became certain kind of relief from sorrowful existence. In this way the film is based on numerous psychological problems of youngsters.
The film is effectively shot: colorful trees, low sky, scudding clouds, thunderstorm at night and daytime, etc. All of these effects always appear timely and very much to the point. It is considered to be one of the best-shot films about violence at schools. Most of the scenes in the film are improvised. But it doesn’t mean that the teenagers reveal being non-professionals. They skillfully and emotionally play their roles.
There is one more peculiarity of the film. Though it is a continuous description of only one school day, sometimes scenes repeat but from different corners of the room for instance. It creates an image of everyday life. The last part of the film finally introduces us to killers. They enjoy playing violent video-games, watching Nazi documentary films and buying weapon by means of Internet. These boys are the most striking characters in the film. Their immoral and mentally sick behavior isn’t fun at all. Though the film has enough humorous scenes, it is more tragic than funny. If to take it seriously the very plot is rather depressing. But on the whole it is a nice example of a well-shot film with impressive scenes and talented actors. They managed to show high level of artistic skills.—————————————————————————–
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