Movie Magic – Water for Elephants




Francis Lawrence


Richard LaGravenese


Robert Pattinson as Jacob

Reese Witherspoon as Marlena

Christoph Waltz as August

Hal Holbrook as Old Jacob


As a stand alone film Francis Lawrence’s Water for Elephants is an enjoyable romantic drama that showcases some quality acting however having read the novel first I could not help but feel the ending was rushed and some of the quality storyline glossed over.

The omission of some of the friendship storyline with Jacob, Walter and Camel and also the portrayal of Jacobs life at the retirement home was probably necessary from a film sense but it gave the story such depth in the novel that it was difficult to build a relationship with the film version of the characters.


Adaptation issues aside Water for Elephants is an admirable drama with quality acting from the star studded cast especially from Christoph Waltz who plays August the paranoid schizophrenic circus owner with impressive ease. Reese Witherspoon shines as Marlena the tortured wife of August but really comes into her own when her character falls in love with the young stowaway vet Jacob played by Robert Pattinson.

Pattinson breaks away from his moody Twilight fame with his portrayal of Jacob, proving his worth as an actor as he shows an array of emotions and a believable chemistry with Witherspoon that heightens the enjoyment of this film.

bigpreview_Water for Elephants

So with some clever costumes, set design and quality acting Water for Elephants ticks all the boxes for its genre just try to view it as a separate entity as opposed to an adaptation of the Sara Gruen hit or you may be a little disappointed.


Review: Water for Elephants

imagesTitle: Water for Elephants

Author: Sara Gruen

Cover copy: “In Depression-era America, everyone’s running away from something. Some people join the circus to escape. Jacob Jankowski hitches a ride on a freight train and in that instant his life changes. By morning, he’s landed a job with the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. By nightfall, he’s in love.”

My thoughts: I had heard a lot about Water for Elephants before I picked it up, some people loved it while others were less enthusiastic so I was intrigued from the beginning. After finishing the book I can understand both sides of the argument, the story has a hint of drama for dramas sake and the animal cruelty can be disturbing to read but behind that there is a endearing love story filled with excitement.

Set in Depression-era America our hero Jacob Jankowski has his life turned upside down. Jacobs response to his emotional turmoil is to run away with the circus where he meets Marlena and thus the fairytale begins. Jacob is a very likeable character from the beginning, his willingness to help out those around him and his obvious concern for the animals endears him to the reader so we are left hoping for a happy ending to his story. Marlena is cast as the classic heroine, the damsel in distress some might say, and her relationship with Jacob provides her with a happy release from her turbulent marriage.

Gruen brings vivid detail to life as part of a travelling circus, her descriptions of the characters, living arrangements and atmosphere heighten the enjoyment of the reader. Overall Water for Elephants is an enjoyable well written novel that doesn’t demand too much thinking from the reader.

Favourite Quotes:

“Dear God. Not only am I unemployed and homeless, but I also have a pregnant woman, bereaved dog, elephant, and eleven horses to take care of.”

“Although there are times I’d give anything to have her back, I’m glad she went first. Losing her was like being cleft down the middle. It was the moment it all ended for me, and I wouldn’t have wanted her to go through that.”

“So what if I’m ninety-three? So what if I’m ancient and cranky and my body’s a wreck? If they’re willing to accept me and my guilty conscience, why the hell shouldn’t I run away with the circus?”

Final Thoughts:

A well written story about love overcoming obstacles. Gruen has created a non taxing novel that has the ability to appeal to a wide audience with its colourful characters and well thought out love story.