Elephant Song is the Talky Movie You Are Looking For - Taylor Holmes inc.

Elephant Song is the Talky Movie You Are Looking For

Elephant Song is the Talky Movie You Are Looking For
Reader Rating1 Votes

You can watch Elephant Song at one of these great streaming locations:

Are you looking for a dialogue driven, mental cat and mouse movie? Then maybe Elephant Song is the one for you. The Elephant Song was originally a Canadian stage play, written by Nicolas Billon… and it was first put on in 2002. The play and the movie correspond to one another dramatically well. I even went so far as to find the book of the play in order to see how close the Venn diagram circles overlap. And basically they create a pretty tight singular circle. The movie almost goes so far as to remain a single set play, similar to the play. It’s pretty remarkable how close the film and the play resemble one another.

Elephant Song is the Talky Movie You Are Looking For

Elephant Song Movie Walkthrough

General Question: Where is Dr. James Lawrence?

Who Would Know Lawrence’s whereabouts? Asylum patient Michael – who was the last person to see him alive.

Elephant Song is a moment, balanced on a knife’s edge. Dr. Lawrence has gone missing, and Lawrence’s psychopath of a patient, Michael seems to know something and time is of the essence. Dr. Toby Greene, a psychiatrist at the asylum, has been called in in order to interview Michael and get to the bottom of his disappearance. At first, the film and the interview seem quite straight forward, but the more we get to know Michael, the more we realize that it is anything but. Maybe the staff should have just contacted the police directly instead?

Soon enough, we learn that Michael was the son of a famous opera singer, a woman who got pregnant, inconveniently, and wasn’t ready to engage with a child. Michael only met his father once, and it was during a safari… wherein Michael’s father killed an elephant. The encounter was tragically crushing for Michael… and he has fixated on elephants ever since, how emotional they are and their extraordinarily intelligent natures. We also learn from Michael that he allowed his mother to die after she overdosed. But we have to take everything with a grain of salt seeing as though Michael has convinced Dr. Greene to not read his file. But it is this broken sort of nature about Michael that interests Dr. Greene… Michael can be somewhat charming, and playful, but also confounding and alarming all simultaneously.

Did we mention that the head nurse, Susan Peterson, is also Greene’s ex-wife? And why this is the case? I have no idea. There is also one other interesting individual who falls within this story, and that is Dr. Greene’s current wife, Olivia. Hrmmm. What caused Greene and Susan to go their separate ways? Well, they apparently had a daughter, and this daughter drowned in a lake… and they just couldn’t seem to recover from the blow. But Olivia, who might as well be the White Witch of Narnia (and is played by Trinity, I mean the ever brilliant Carrie-Anne Moss, and who is totally wasted on this part) is here to make certain Greene pays attention to her. Almost annoyingly so.

Just stop for a second. Let’s just take Michael out of the picture. Dr. Greene has issues of his own. Right? He doesn’t want to be at home with his current wife even though it’s Christmas. Hrmm. What is that about? Heck, why is this detail even in the movie? Why do we care? It really just doesn’t matter to the larger story of finding Dr. Lawrence. Or does it? And when Dr. Greene is at work, he is there with his ex-wife… but at a remove. He keeps his distance from her… but that doesn’t keep Susan from worrying about him. Regularly she tries to keep the door to Dr. Lawrence’s office open. Her concern is repeated regularly on this point. She’s deathly worried about what Michael will do. But it is her past with Dr. Greene that brings into focus Greene’s own issues – his own trauma that comes from his fairly recent past and the death of his daughter.

Back to the cat and mouse between Michael and Greene.

Michael discusses the circumstances of his forced stay in the hospital, hinting at improper doctor-patient relationships involving him and Lawrence, and a bizarre love-hate relationship with Peterson. Michael is aware that Nurse Peterson and Dr. Greene were married and the circumstances of losing their daughter Rachel and makes it known that he knows.

Michael’s ploys also include an attempt to negotiate his early release from hospital in return for divulging the circumstances of Dr. Lawrence’s disappearance. Michael eventually convinces Greene to exchange a box of chocolates for a note Michael has concealed, which will reveal what has happened to Lawrence. The note states that Lawrence has simply gone to be with his sick sister. While Greene phones Lawrence and confirms the situation, Peterson enters the room and notices the chocolates, nervously screaming that Michael knows he is strongly allergic to the nuts in the chocolates. She and Greene quickly administer adrenaline shots and attempt resuscitation, but Michael dies. Greene asks for forgiveness from Peterson.

When Dr. Lawrence returns, he confirms that he loved Michael, but not in the manner that Michael had implied. Lawrence has scandals of misappropriation against him. Greene resigns and Peterson is suspended for a period. The film ends with Greene and Peterson meeting and sitting together in a park, holding hands.

Elephant Song is the Talky Movie You Are Looking For

The Ending of Elephant Song Explained

You have two choices here as to how to interpret Elephant Song. 1) You can assume that the playwright/screenplay writer, and the film’s director are ninnies who wrote extraneous characters into the play and the movie. Or 2) You can assume that this movie had exactly the perfect number of characters to support the movies central ideas and its deeper purpose. Either Susan and Olivia were intentionally placed in this movie, and snapped into a larger meaning for the film, or they were just extraneous set dressing.

I will admit, as the movie wound up, Olivia (was this a waste of Carrie Anne Moss’s glorious potential??) seemed to make this movie wobble like an out of balance tire. She was gratuitous and fairly fatuous. In a word… annoying. Worse, Susan… the nurse at the institution. She just worried, and meddled incessantly. WHAT IS HAPPENING?? Let’s just set that thought right over there ——-> and come back to it in a moment.

Then you have Michael, if we walk back through the movie, knowing what we know at the end, things begin explain themselves as the movie’s intentions unzip themselves for us. The day before, Dr. Lawrence is in session with Michael. Michael knows that Dr. Lawrence loves him… but not in that way. Michael, in a misdirected attempt at being seen, being loved, being accepted, feels rejected. Dr. Lawrence lets Michael know that he is going to visit his sister, and would be back after the Christmas break. And he lets the staff know this too by writing a note, and leaving it on his desk. (Come on, that’s a bit of a flaw in the logic of the script. But heck, I know know how this sort of a thing happened back in the day.) Michael steals the note, and when Dr. Lawrence doesn’t show up for work, they are concerned. They call in Dr. Greene, why? Because Michael has indicated that Dr. Lawrence has disappeared under suspicious circumstances, and that he is the only one that might know something. Which, is literally true. And as the movie winds down, we realize that this was all just a ruse in order to get Dr. Greene to hand him Dr. Lawrence’s chocolates that are in his desk. Why? Because he’s highly allergic to chocolate, and he wants to die.

That’s the what of Elephant Song, but not really the why. The why is that Michael was disregarded by his glorious opera singing mother as she sought fame and acclaim. Michael’s one encounter with his father went horribly wrong in that he watched as his father murder an elephant in front of his eyes. Elephants are passionate animals, and are capable of great feats of compassion. They live in packs and families, they care for the members of their family… unlike Michael’s family.

Now, this brings us to those “extraneous” characters we set over there ——> for a moment. These two women from the boundaries that is Dr. Greene. Susan is Greene’s ex-wife. The two of them lost a child together, and split as a result of the psychic pain and trauma that resulted from their loss. They haven’t delved, they haven’t worked at trying to do the mental work to work through the grief together. That brings us to Olivia, Greene’s new wife that he disdains. He detests her so much that he chooses to investigate Dr. Lawrence’s disappearance instead of calling the police and letting them handle it. So yeah, he screwed up when he made that rebound move.

So, yeah, we can safely assume that Michael, for Dr. Greene, is a proxy. A what? You know, a substitute. A stand in. For what? (You really can bring a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.) For his dead daughter, you doof. Maybe this diagram that I created during my video walk through of the movie (which you can get access to over on Patreon, right here.

Elephant Song is the Talky Movie You Are Looking For

You can see that we have Susan on the left… and her marriage with Dr. Greene broken as a result of their dead daughter. Olivia is a bit of an annoying counterbalance that is throwing everything in this movie out of balance – and taking these two characters away from the work necessary for reconciliation, forgiveness, and ultimately being set free from their deep internal guilt. And then we have Michael, who was ultimately looking for love and acceptance. He was hoping for the love of Dr. Lawrence, but with that missing, instead, he uses his manipulative abilities in order to convince Dr. Greene to give him Dr. Lawrence’s chocolates. This then crashes both Susan (who believes that Michael has never lied to her, and ultimately cares very deeply for Michael) and Dr. Greene back into each other as they are forced to grapple with both the death of Michael, and also their drowned daughter.

At the end of the movie, we see Susan and Greene meeting at a bench, in the cold, together. Why? Is this the lake that their daughter died at? Dollars to donuts, I bet it is. Which, would hint at a deeper conversation, at a deeper work that they both want to finally start. Reconciliation, finally grieving, and possibly restoration. No?

Edited by: CY