Two Films by Alan Clarke: The Firm (1989) & Elephant (1989)

Senses of Cinema article on Clarke here
on Elephant
“For a viewer who does not recognise the unremarkable Belfast locales or the unnamed murders from news accounts, the anonymous action could remain unidentified as the Irish sectarian murders which, from actual incident reports and statistics, are what Clarke is dutifully reproducing. There are murders in a parking lot, by a pool, on a soccer field, in a gas station, in a home, in a warehouse – some swift, others involving heart wrenchingly futile pursuit, and all the protagonists nameless. (Clarke omits only those murders where children were left behind alive with their slaughtered parents.)

Every one ends with a held shot on the murder scene, a forced contemplation in silence and sudden stillness. By the third or fourth, the viewer is primed to cringe at anyone walking anywhere, since the endpoint is always the same. The formalist rigour and factual basis distill the art and social concern of his work, and the film is the supreme manifestation of his experiments with withholding context towards the social purity of the physical event. “

Buy DVD here

IMDd site for Elephant here
MUBI site for Elephant here
IMDb site for The Firm here
MUBI site for The Firm here
All screenshots taken by myself.

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