Friday, 9 September 2011



WATER FOR ELEPHANTS (2011) Wiki Plot / Synopsis / Review

After his son forgets to show up, Jacob Jankowski (Hal Holbrook) decides to see the circus alone. While there, he is found by two circus workers who insist on helping him. Jacob mentions that he was a part of the Benzini Circus in 1931 and one of the workers is intrigued, having heard that the Benzini Circus failed after a terrible disaster. He asks Jacob for details of that disaster, and so Jacob begins to tell his story.
Flashback to the prohibition era, during the Great Depression, 1931, where a 23-year-old Polish American Jacob (Robert Pattinson) is a Cornell student. While taking his final exam, he is informed that his parents have been killed in a car crash. His father (Ilia Volok) has left huge debts, and the bank forecloses on Jacob's home. Feeling that there is no point in returning to school, and having no home, he jumps onto a passing train where he meets Camel (Jim Norton), who promises him a job and tells him to get some sleep.
In the morning, Jacob discovers that he jumped on the Benzini Brothers Circus train, and while watching the train unload, he sees a beautiful woman, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), performing with her horses. Jacob does odd jobs all day and that evening is summoned to meet August (Christoph Waltz), the circus owner, the head animal trainer, and Marlena's husband. August orders him thrown off the train, but Jacob reveals that he studied veterinary science at Cornell and has noticed a problem with Silver, the starring horse of the show. August agrees to hire him as a vet for the circus animals.
The next day, Jacob examines Silver, diagnoses laminitis, and suggests that Silver should be put to sleep, because the condition is agonizing for the horse and incurable. August refuses and orders Jacob make the horse ready for the next show. Marlena is heartbroken and tells Jacob that August will not allow the horse to stop performing. Jacob, unable to bear the pain the horse and the girl are in, steals a gun and shoots the horse.
When August finds out he is furious, and has several men grab Jacob and pretend they are going to 'red-light' him (referring to the practice of throwing men off a moving train, either as a punishment or as a way to avoid paying their wages). August explains that his word is law, and that Jacob will be thrown off if he does not do as he is told. Jacob gets the message and August bunks him in a room with the dwarf, Walter (Mark Povinelli) and Walter's dog, Queenie.
Soon after, August reveals the new starring act for the circus; a 53-year-old elephant named Rosie. At an intimate celebration that evening, August asks Jacob to be Rosie's trainer/caretaker, and Jacob admits to August and Marlena that he did not graduate from Cornell and is not certified as a vet. August shrugs it off and hires him anyway. August becomes intoxicated and goes to bed, leaving Marlena and Jacob to share a brief dance together.
Jacob is given a bullhook with which to train Rosie, but has no idea how to use it. When Rosie does not respond quickly enough to commands, August uses it instead. Rosie becomes afraid of him, and stampedes during a show, nearly throwing Marlena from her back. Marlena covers the elephant's panicked retreat beautifully, but is slightly injured as a result. When Jacob later tells August that he found Rosie and returned her to her rail car, August, still in a fury over Marlena's injury, brutally beats Rosie with the bullhook, while Jacob is physically prevented from stopping the assault. Jacob confronts him soon afterward, but August is remorseful, provides alcohol for treating Rosie's wounds, and is upset that Marlena now refuses to talk to him. He begs Jacob to talk to her. Marlena and August do reconcile and the three of them form a guarded relationship.
During Rosie's recovery, Jacob learns why she was not performing - the spoken commands that she knows are all in Polish. Jacob teaches the correct commands to August, who is thrilled. The circus brings in packed crowds and August takes Marlena and Jacob out to celebrate. Police raid the bar and everyone rushes out. In a confusion, Marlena and Jacob lose track of August. They share a kiss, but Marlena leaves abruptly telling Jacob not to follow.
Camel falls ill due to drinking Jamaican ginger extract, and is left unable to work. Jacob realizes that Camel will be "red-lighted" when he is discovered. Camel has mentioned a son that lives in a town where the circus will be performing in three few weeks, so Jacob and Walter decide to hide him until then.
Meanwhile, August's suspicions about Marlena and Jacob reach a peak, and he hits Marlena. Jacob retaliates and Walter takes him back to their room, where Marlena finds him and warns him that August has ordered him "red-lighted". Jacob and Marlena jump from the moving train and go to a hotel, where they have sex. The following morning, they make plans for Jacob to finish his degree and they can both join the Ringling Brothers circus. August's men find them as they prepare to leave, beating Jacob unconscious and kidnapping Marlena.
Jacob returns to the circus to find her. Jacob returns to the room where they had hidden Camel, and finds Queenie alone. Livid, Jacob takes a knife and breaks into August's rail car, intending to kill him. However, he finds Marlena being held down by a sleeping August and he finds he cannot do it. In the morning, Marlena tells him that Camel and Walter have been red-lighted and found dead by their friends who vow to seek revenge on August.
The next morning, Marlena wakes Jacob and he tells her to sneak away after the first performance. They plan to escape again together. However, the men who survived being thrown off the train return and release all the menagerie animals as revenge. Chaos ensues.
As performers and audience members are chased from the arena by the lions and bears, August spots Jacob in the crowd, and attempts to kill him. Marlena grabs the bullhook and hits August, distracting him from Jacob. August chases her down and pins her to the ground under Rosie's feet, attempting to strangle her with the bullhook. Jacob tries to go to her aid but is stopped and beaten by the same henchman that beat him unconscious at the hotel. Rosie spots Marlena in distress and in her anxiety, pulls her tether spike out of the ground and swings it at August. The blow she delivers is fatal and August dies. The circus is shut down.
The elderly Jacob reveals that he did eventually get his certification as a vet. He and Marlena joined the Ringling circus as they had planned at the hotel. Jacob reveals that they went on to get married and have five children, three of them while working with Rosie in the new circus. He says they had a wonderful life together, as he had promised Marlena, but she has been dead for many years now and the kids forget to visit.

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