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Approaching the Elephant

  NR Closed Captioning

Amanda Rose Wilder

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About the Movie

APPROACHING THE ELEPHANT dives head first into the inaugural year of the Teddy McArdle Free School in New Jersey, where all classes are voluntary and rules are determined by vote – adults and children have an equal say. Director Amanda Rose Wilder is there from the beginning to end of the school year, documenting and observing founder Alex Khost and an indelible cast of outspoken young personalities as they form relationships, explore their surroundings and intensely debate rule violations, until it all comes to a head.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews


  • Reviews Counted: 10
  • Fresh: 10
  • Rotten: 0
  • Average Rating: 8.2/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Fresh: There's still something exhilarating about the school's experiment and the children's ability to apply democratic principles without clobbering one another (much). – Nicolas Rapold, New York Times, Feb 19, 2015

Fresh: Freedom curdles into chaos, and it's from this turbulence that the film derives much of its visceral power. – Calum Marsh, Village Voice, Jun 17, 2014

Fresh: It's a visceral, experiential, and absorbing viewing experience, not an educational issue doc. – Tomas Hachard, NPR, Feb 19, 2015

Fresh: Nuanced and passionate ... – Richard Brody, New Yorker, Feb 16, 2015

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

Great film. Riveting and insightful look at the lives of young people.

Full disclosure, my kids are in this film. They loved going to the school and got a lot from the experience. The film is poignant and insightful, and builds to a great climax. It is highly recommended, one of the most moving documentaries I've ever seen.

Beautifully shot, unsettling to watch

As an educator, I found the topic of this documentary interesting - throughout the duration of the film I was completely unsettled and fascinated by what unravelled.

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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Released: 2015

Customer Ratings