George Feast

‘E lefante’ short
film analysis
Elefante is a short film directed by Pablo Larcuen
from Spain in 2012. The film as published on
!o"ember #
201$ on the Social !etor%ing site
& The short film's description details the
conte(t of the story )Manuel is a poor soul. He is stuck in a monotonous job, he only
has one friend who he doesn't even like and his family looks down on him.
Everything will change when the doctor diagnoses him with a strange disease:
Manuel is going to turn into an elephant.
Elefante implicitly connotes representations of issues such as age* gender*
relationships from the onset of its running time of +,1#. The main character of
Elefante is -anuel and from the start of the film he is represented as discontented
ith his current situation. This is built through a monotone non diegetic "oice.o"er
coupled ith subtitles to translate Spanish to English.
The first time e itness -anuel the audience assumes that he or%s an office /ob.
This is con"eyed by the -ise.en.scene of the first se"eral shots of the film. These
sho an uninterested -anuel sitting in a stereotypical bloc% of grey ashed cubicles.
This use of mise.en.scene coupled ith the subtitles and the "oiceo"er further the
point that -anuel is discontented and e(tremely unhappy ith se"eral aspects of his
life. This continues throughout the entire film until his une(pected metamorphosis of
into an elephant hich is the films main story arc.
The film creates the stereotype of a depressed office or%er or%ing in a
monotonous /ob. This is constructed through the mise en scene of the establishing
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shot coupled ith the editor using colour correction to ash the shots ith a grey tint.
This represents the depressing nature of -anuel's repetiti"e life and the grey
en"ironment he is constantly sub/ected to.
0nother stereotypical character hose traits resemble the -achia"ellian character
archetype is -anuel's )friend' Sergio. -anuel re"eals early on* utilising diegetic
dialogue and subtitles* that he doesn't e"en li%e Sergio e"en though they are friends.
Sergio's -achia"ellian attributes are con"eyed through the fact that he ta%es
ad"antage of -anuel's disease and conse1uent
transformation into an elephant. This is elicited
by the fact he shos a lac% of loyalty to -anuel
by ha"ing a relationship ith his ife hile he is
aay. This is shon in the linear narrati"e of the
film hich conforms to Todoro"s theory. This
scene correlates ith the theory by implying
there is a disruption 2-anuel turning into an
elephant3 but challenges it by presenting a 2

disruption of the narrati"e 2Sergio ta%ing
ad"antage of his ife3. This betrayal of -anuel
shos his traits of treachery and slyness
reinforcing the theory that he represents this
type of antagonist. This could also correlate to
Prop's theory of 4inary opposition 2to
opposing forces engaging in conflict to create a
competent piece of media.3 -anuel being the
morally righteous protagonist and Sergio being
the sly and disloyal antagonist ho oppresses
the hero.5 belie"e the films audience to be $6.
70 year old males ho are situated into the socio
economic group 81 hich consists of )!upervisory, clerical, junior managerial e.g.
shop floor supervisor, bank clerk, sales person. This is due to the films protagonist*
content and themes. The fact that -anuel appears to /ust be an a"erage man
or%ing a dull /ob ould appeal to many people of this age and profession. The
struggles he goes through are easily relatable in the modern orld and are
e(perienced by many people. This is also portrayed by the fact that -anuel's /ob is
also a representation of the socio economic group 81.
The camera and lighting create meaning throughout the piece but the one scene that
stands out is after -anuel's metamorphosis and his spiral into depression. The -ise
en scene of shots denotes -anuel in his elephant form stumbling don a bac% alley
hea"ily consuming large 1uantities of alcohol straight from the bottle. This connotes
that that -anuel has hit a all of depression that has en"eloped him and his hole
sense of being. This interpretation is also reinforced by the fact that a depressed
facial e(pression can be made out through his elephant features. The camera mainly
focuses on close up shots of his face as he consumes the alcohol. This creates an
emotional bond beteen the audience and -anuel and further causes the audience
to feel sympathetic at his current situation. The lighting of this scene is e(tremely
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limited apart from street lamps from the setting. This further denotes the
protagonist's depression. This is because at -anuel's dar%est hour emotionally he is
alone and shrouded in dar%ness.
0lthough the film connotes a lot through its technical proess and its e(pertise in
using the range of media techni1ues there is also ideologies and themes present in
this media hich constantly run through its duration. The ideologies that are shon
ha"e to be coupled ith an analysis of the genre of the film. The films genre is hard
to pinpoint but 5 personally ould put it in a sub.genre of the Tragedy genre. This is
due to the fact that the ma/ority of the film is 9is a form of based on human suffering
that invokes in its audience an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in the viewing.'
This is true throughout the entirety of Elephante: e become emotionally attached to
-anuel in his human and elephant state and feel a cathartic sadness due to the
amount he is put through. ;e also gain pleasure from the slightly heart arming
ending. The ending of Elephante challenges the con"entional ending of a tragedy in
hich the ne e1uilibrium is here the main protagonist dies. 5n Elephante he
merely turns into an elephant hich is in fact beneficial to him due to the fact that he
is closer to his son and no appreciates the little things of life a lot more. The main
ideology of the film 5s con"eyed hen related to Fran< =af%a9s -etamorphosis. 4oth
pieces depict a random metamorphosis of a man hich leads to the donfall and
loss of e"erything. 4y using -etamorphosis as a comparison e can see that the
use of -anuel9s transformation into an elephant as hat =af%a also used. This as
to bring forard the ideology of ho a complete outcast is treated in society and
struggle that they face due to their differences. The director too% a different approach
to =af%a hoe"er by his decision not to %ill off the main protagonist at the ending of
the tragedy. This gi"es the impression that although it is a tragedy it has a resol"ed
ending hich is upbeat and happy due to the fact that -anuel has finally gained his
sons lo"e* e"en though he is an elephant.

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