Water for Elephants

Theatrical Release: April 22, 2011
Water for Elephants


Based on the acclaimed number-one bestseller, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS presents an epic tale of forbidden love in a magical place filled with adventure, wonder and great danger. A veterinary student from the wrong side of the tracks, Jacob, meets and falls in love with Marlena, a star performer in a circus of a bygone era. They discover beauty amidst the world of the Big Top, and come together through their compassion for a special elephant. Against all odds – including the wrath of Marlena’s charismatic but dangerous husband August – Jacob saves Marlena from an unhappy life and they find lifelong love.

Dove Review

This movie has its moments. You really do step into the old world charm of the circus during the Great Depression. The various acts are showcased including the lions, tigers, clowns, horseback riders and all the rest. Unfortunately when the film lays bare the ugliness of its owner, August, who in the course of the film beats an elephant bloody and blackens his wife’s eye, well…the charm quickly goes out the door. A young man raised by veterinarians, Jacob (Robert Pattinson) is hired for his skills and in the hope he can save a badly hurt horse. He suggests it be put down and when the owner refuses Jacob takes matters into his own hands. His honest and direct personality draws August’s wife Marlena (Reese Witherspoon) to him and they begin an affair. When August learns of it he is determined to end it however he can. When it looks as if all hope for the circus is gone after the death of the star-attraction, the horse, the owner finds an elephant but becomes impatient with him until Jacob learns the secret of how to get the elephant to perform.

The characters and their trials and hopes are what made this an interesting watch for me but I am sad to say that due to language and the affair in the movie we are unable to award our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal to this picture.

Content Description

Faith: None
Integrity: None
Sex: An affair and implied sex between an unmarried couple; kissing; a scene in which a stripper strips although it is not a graphic scene.
Language: GD-2; B-4; H-4; S-3; D-5; A-1
Violence: An elephant is beat till it's bloody; a horse is put down but the scene is not graphic; several people are beat up with some blood; a few men die after being thrown off a train and landing on the rocks and their bloody faces are briefly seen; a woman is hit; a woman strikes a man with a bar; a man tries to strangle a woman to death but she survives; an elephant strikes a man and he is killed; the animals are set free and chase people; a lion almost bites a man's hand as he feeds him.; a man's parents die and he has to identify the remains which are seen from a distance and briefly.
Drugs: A lot of drinking scenes in the film including several scenes of drinking champagne; cigarette and cigar smoking.
Nudity: Cleavage; shirtless men; short skirts.
Other: An accident in which two people die; a man is cruel to animals; a man vomits.


Company: 20th Century Fox
Writer: Richard LaGravenese & Sara Gruen
Producer: Gil Netter
Genre: Drama
Runtime: 122 min.
Reviewer: Edwin L. Carpenter