Minimalism and art-cinema narration in Gus Van Sant's Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days
Though Gus Van Sanfs best known films-My Own Private Idaho and Good Will Hunting-have earned critical acclaim and commercial success, the focus of this thesis is a trilogy of films made in the first decade of the twenty first century. Gerry, Elephant, and Last Days form a stylistic trilogy that replaces conventional filmmaking's emphasis on plot and character development in the construction of film narrative with a minimalist style of cinematography that defies viewer expectations. Working against the tradition of a plot constructed around a psychologically motivated, causal chain of events, Van Sant instead offers very little in terms of conflict and other readily identifiable components of generic plot including character motivation. Though Elephant won the best picture and best director awards at the Cannes Film Festival, these three films have been either largely ignored or heavily criticized as miserable failures.