May 22, 2017

Robert Pattinson spaces on “Water for Elephants” meaning

By Kim Palacios During an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote “Water for Elephants,” star Robert Pattinson could not recall the significance of the title of the film. Though the meaning is never revealed in the screen rendition, it is made quite clear in the book.

In Sarah Gruen’s novel of the same name (from which the screenplay was adapted) the narrator, an older Jacob Jankowski (played by Hal Holbrook in the film) meets a resident at the nursing home in which he lives. All of the residents are excited because the circus is coming to town—this particular resident brags that he used to work with a circus. Jankowski, having worked in the circus himself, listens carefully to the man’s tall tale. He identifies the man as a liar when the man asserts that his role was to carry water for the elephants.

The anomaly comes in the fact that elephants consume so much water, that a single bucket (or many buckets) would never suffice. Most history alludes to elephants having been served from a water wagon or fire hydrant. Other historical accounts describe local children being hired to carry water for smaller animals, but not for elephants.

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About Kim Palacios

Kim Palacios is a San Francisco Bay Area transplant whose epicurean tendencies are matched only by her wanderlust. While not covering food, wine, and luxury travel for her column on, she guest writes for Travel Writers Exchange and a number of other varied-topic blogs. She is quadrilingual and holds an M.B.A. in Finance (neither of which she uses much these days). While not mourning the death of free markets and grumbling about the tax treatment of Californians, she enjoys film, and all things Twilight.

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  • April 30, 2011 | Permalink |

    It was alluded to in the movie when Jacob is first taken to meet August & Audust turns to his poker buddies and says, “maybe we could hire him to get water for the elephants” and they all laughed.

  • May 1, 2011 | Permalink |

    I thought the same thing as @Robert’s Fan.

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