Water for Elephants
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring: Christoph Waltz, Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Schneider, Hal Holbrook
Release Date: April 22, 2011
Ask somebody of yesteryear about a circus (because rarely do people attend circuses nowadays) and you’re inclined to get a favorable answer and probably be subjected to many stories recollecting their happiness such an event gave to them. This perspective of the ever-popular big top productions of the early 20th century, promising incomprehensible acts of wonder and merriment, usually comes from members of the audience sitting in awe at the wide-eyed spectacle that unfolds before them. But little are they aware of the events that unravel behind the scenes, such as a ringmaster’s wife being wooed by the circus’ veterinarian. Spectators of circuses are disconnected from all that occurs when elephants, lions, acrobats and horses aren’t dazzling them with their tricks and poetic beauty. But like what David Lynch once taught us in Mulholland Dr.: all is an illusion.
In contemporary times, an old man (played pitch perfectly by Hal Holbrook) hobbling with a cane has escaped a nursing home. He finds himself in pouring rain outside of a circus. Suddenly he comes to a halt and begins to admire the place, maybe looking for lost memories that have passed him by. We learn that he was part the Benzini Brothers circus back in 1931. But maybe that was an illusion, being it was such a long time ago. The owner of the circus (Paul Schneider) who finds this old man is soon given a history lesson regarding the 1931 Benzini circus. Water for Elephants then follows the old man’s story, a guaranteed tear-inducing technique reminiscent of Titanic and The Notebook.
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