Water For Elephants (2011)

“Work is the best thing for age.” – Jacob

Number of Times Seen – Twice (22 Aug 2011 and 13 Aug 2019)

Brief Synopsis – A veterinary school dropout joins a traveling circus run by a ruthless owner but causes even more trouble when he falls in love with the owner’s wife, a trapeze artist.

My Take on it – This is a film that I recall seeing not long after it came out and was curious to revisit.

They do a nice job telling this romance story that allows us to see the cold and brutal reality of life on traveling circuses in the 30’s.

They also allow us to see the importance of standing up for what one believes even if there could be harsh reprisals.

Both Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson are fine actors and they give pretty good performances here but the entire cast is outshined by Christoph Waltz who once again shows how powerful an actor he can be even when given such a brutal character to play.

The film utilizes special effects really when when dealing with the multitude of animals needed for this story which was groundbreaking when this was made.

It helps make the story feel even more realistic because of the way that the characters and animals are able to interact with so much more ease due to the effects.

Loved seeing Hal Holbrook in a small yet essential role that bookends the story being told.

This film is based on a best selling novel which probably does a much better job portraying the love story aspects, but they still manage to keep those parts of the story pretty good here even if it doesn’t manage to get much deeper into the way the characters truly feel.

Bottom Line – Nice romance story that shows both the realities of traveling circuses in the 1930’s era and how important it is to stand up for what you truly believe in.  Witherspoon and Pattinson are both great in the lead roles, but they are outshined by Waltz who is superbly horrific in the role he is given. The use of special effects for the animals was groundbreaking when this was made, but help the story feel even more realistic due to the way that the animals are so integral to the story and the plot. Holbrook does a wonderful job in a small yet significant role that bookends the story being told.  The novel probably makes the love story more poignant than they are able to embody on screen, but they still do a fair job with that aspect of the storyline,. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The owner of the circus at the beginning mentions the Hagenbeck-Wallace wreck and the Hartford fire. These were actual circus disasters. On June 22, 1918 a troop train crashed into the Hagenbeck-Wallace circus train because the driver fell asleep and did not see the warning signs about the stopped circus train. Eighty-six people were killed and another one hundred twenty-seven were injured. On July 6, 1944 the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey big top circus tent at Hartford caught fire and killed one hundred sixty-nine people and injured over seven hundred. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (7/10)


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3 thoughts on “Water For Elephants (2011)

  1. Overall this is a pretty engrossing story with multi-layered characters. Where it falls down is the total absence of chemistry between the romantic leads. It’s easier to believe that Marlena is in love with August than with Jacob, which I doubt was the intention.


  2. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 2011 | MovieRob

  3. Pingback: The Large Association of Movie Blogs | Acting School 101 – March 2021 – Reese Witherspoon

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