A Revelation? – Water For Elephants

A Revelation? – Water For Elephants

Twentieth Century Fox

Release Date (UK): May 4th, 2011
Certificate (UK): tbc
Running time: tbc

Director: Francis Lawrence
Screenplay: Richard LaGravenese

Robert Pattinson, Reese Witherspoon, Christoph Waltz


In 2006, Sara Gruen’s novel Water For Elephants was on the New York Times best seller list for 12 weeks, with the Sunday Book Review closing:

“With a showman’s expert timing, she saves a terrific revelation for the final pages, transforming a glimpse of Americana into an enchanting escapist fairy tale.”

Water For ElephantsThe story is set in the Great Depression, where veterinary student Jacob Jankowski (Twilight star Robert Pattinson) drops his studies after his parents are killed and joins The Benzini Brothers, a travelling circus with two main attractions: Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) and her horses, and elephant Rosie. Jacob connects with Rosie and falls in love with Marlena. His romance with the circus lady is complicated by her charismatic but twisted husband August (Christoph Waltz) who is also the circus boss.

Water For ElephantsOne of the layers in Gruen’s story is the biblical narrative about Jacob in the Book of Genesis (see interview with Sara Gruen on Reading Group Guides). Whether or not Jacob is the most sympathetic character in The Bible, morals and self-worth appear to play an important role in Francis Lawrence’s movie adaptation, themes he already explored in Constantine (2005) and I Am Legend (2007). And given the supernatural and above all apocalyptic settings of these films I’d expect Lawrence’s Water For Elephants to be a fiery Water For Elephantspiece with more than one emotional abyss. The mood of the trailer (⇓) seems to point in that direction.

I’m curious though if the mystical and rather bizarre touch of the circus world with its symbolism and often otherworldly veneer will be as present as in the HBO TV show Carnivàle (2003-2005, 24 episodes), the more so as the award-winning series had a compelling aesthetic vibe and pull I haven’t seen matched since.

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