Many of us are familiar with bullying, which presents itself at various stages in our lives. It doesn’t matter what our status of involvement was, whether we were the bullies, the bullied, or the bystanders, because it’s hard to draw a line between the victim and the perpetrator, and these roles are often reversible.
We have picked five movies about the various facets of bullying, how difficult it is to identify a certain behavior as bullying, and how indifference might lead to fatal consequences. These movies are hard to watch, which is exactly what the filmmakers were striving for — an unflinching portrayal of reality.
ELEPHANT (2003) by Gus Van Sant
One of the ways the heaviness of the movie "Elephant" is conveyed is through the storytelling style. With Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" playing in the background, the audience is ushered into a serene flow and transported to the halls of an ordinary high school. At first glance, there is nothing peculiar about the lives of these teenagers. The director gives us a purview of what's happening through the eyes of each character. Here, every student is fighting for survival, which means that sometimes they are being bullied, other times, they are bullying others. These students are on their own, worrying about the same things as seemingly everybody else. Then two of the students set out to hunt their classmates. That's when the audience realizes how violent and harsh their environment really is.
Klass (2007) by Ilmar Raag
The movie depicts different kinds of parents from overly attentive to neglectful, teachers who don't take certain issues seriously, and sensitive, emotional, and immature students who are fighting various demons in their heads. The culprit is, perhaps, no one and everyone at the same time. The director shows not only bullies and their victims but inactive bystanders and how one teenager who stands up to this injustice gets punished.
Bully (2001) Lee Hirsch
The movie is about a few troubled teens. They do not go to school, but take drugs and alcohol, and enjoy their freedom as they know it. Bobby and Marty are best friends. However, Bobby who has a violent streak bullies all his friends, especially Marty, something he gets punished for in the end. This is a story about how far you can go when you have been bullied for years on end.
Welcome to the dollhouse (1995) by Todd Solondz.
The movie is about a teenage girl, Dawn, who doesn't seem to be loved by anyone, not by her parents, not by her brother and sister. Parents ignore her. Classmates make fun of her unattractive appearance and glasses. One of her classmates even threatens to rape her. Unloved and unappreciated, she falls for one of her bullies and tries to date him, to no avail. The film gives us an honest portrayal of someone who is starved for love and empathy.
The lake (1998) by Kakha Kikabidze
We finish our list with a 1998 movie," The lake "directed by Kakha Kikabidze. The plot follows Zura, who after witnessing his father's murder, moves from his village to a city with his mom. Deeply traumatized, he is one of the main bullies and troublemakers at the school. He subjects his fellow male classmates to various punishments on a whim and everyone obeys him without a word. After a while, Zura's personality changes and he ends up punishing himself rather than his classmates.