Elephant love hangover

It’s not even open to debate: the BEST SCENE EVER in Moulin Rouge (which is essentially an entire movie of BEST SCENES EVER) is what is referred to on the soundtrack as the “Elephant Love Medley.” Following the Occam’s Razor approach to naming soundtrack cuts, this is the scene where Ewan McGregor sings a medley of songs on top of a giant elephant.

Elephant goes here.

This is the BEST SCENE EVER for many reasons, most obviously because Ewan McGregor is channeling David Bowie, Phil Collins, and Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes in practically the same breath. But I am also intrigued by the philosophical questions embedded in a phrase like “elephant love.” What IS elephant love? Is it the terrifying choreography of an intimate act between Earth’s largest land mammals? Is it the quiet bond that blooms between Dumbo and the little mouse in the red hat who get drunk together, believe in each other, fly through hoops of flame, and are, presumably, doomed to a long, hard lifetime of not being able to “quit each other”?

These are the questions that kept me up at night. And it wasn’t until I met a big ape that I truly learned what elephant love is all about.

Her last name isn’t ‘watts’ fer nothin’.

Elephant love is what is wrong with Peter Jackson’s King Kong. Because there is something wrong with the movie at a fundamental level, even though the most apt word to describe it is AWESOME; it inspires literal awe and even skirts the sublime. But for all the breathtaking imagery and pulse-pounding chases and aerial acrobatics, PJacks is asking a mighty slim story to bear far too much weight. Kong is simple, no matter how many cliche subplots are propping it up: destitute girl meets boy; troubling racial stereotypes sacrifice girl in act dripping with troubling racial metaphor to very impressive special effect/troubling racial metaphor; racial metaphor chases girl, is cut down by his own tragic flaw/troubling racial metaphor. It was PJack’s love for the source material that caused him to stick more bells, whistles, ridiculously prolonged chases, obvious dialog, and corny “Heart of Darkness” references than any movie–let alone one about a big gorilla with a soft spot for blondes–can stand.

This love was elephant love: love so enormous, you can’t see around it. You are standing so close to the elephant you love, all you can do is describe the terrain in great detail. It’s up to the people around you–the people not looking through elephant love-colored glasses–to inform you when the part of the elephant you are fixating on is, in fact, the elephant’s ass.

This is why we have editors, people.



3 Responses to “Elephant love hangover”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Jungle Love! It’s driving me mad, it’s makin’ me crazy (crazy). I heart Steve Miller. ~LJQ

  2. Karissa Says:

    For some reason, this whole entry strikes me as extremely profound. Major props to you! Or, perhaps a new Kate-ism, “proppies”?!

  3. J Says:

    Unless that editor’s name is Nan Talese, in which case: run away! Run Away!

    Also–it may be the first solid food I’ve had in 2 days going to my head, but I totally agree that this whole “elephant love” idea is very profound. Proppies!

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