“Water for Elephants” Story Construction Rip-Off
“Story Construction Rip-Off”
Water for Elephants, as we are told at the beginning of the film, is about pretty much the most famous circus disaster in history, and it stars three of the most popular actors in the movies these days.
However, don’t look now, but the story construction of the film is pretty much an exact rip-off of an earlier, more successful disaster film.
Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz star, but before we meet them, we see Hal Holbrook show up at a circus after it has shut down for the night. He has left the nursing home where he is living and wanted to see the circus for old-time’s sake.
The manager of the circus invites him inside while the manager tries to figure out what to do with this old-timer who seems to know a lot about circuses.
The old-timer tells the manager that he was there when the circus disaster occurred in 1931 with the Benzini Bros. Circus, and he says, “I had a good life, you know. A good life.”
Then as the old man starts reminiscing and telling his story, his voice changes to that of a young man, Jacob Jankowski, and we see and hear Pattinson narrate the story.
A personal tragedy forces Jacob to change his plans to become a veterinarian, and while he is hitchhiking to Albany, he jumps onto a passing train that happens to be the Benzini Bros. Circus train.
The roustabouts take a liking to Jacob, and the next day he is taken to meet the owner and ringmaster, August, to apply for a job. August says that Jacob can have the job of carrying water to the elephants, but the joke is that this is a third-rate circus, and it doesn’t have any elephants.
However, when Jacob’s experience as a veterinarian is revealed, he becomes the veterinarian of the circus animals, which brings him into contact with Marlena, the boss’s wife and the star-attraction trick rider.
Of course, Jacob and Marlena become attracted to each other, of course August is a cruel and possessive taskmaster, and of course events are not going to turn out well for everybody, even when the circus does acquire an elephant.
Water for Elephants is okay as a love story, but it has the same story construction as the 1997 Titantic.
I’m Dan Culberson and this is “Hotshots.”