The Magician’s Elephant (2023) Ending Explained – Does Peter find his sister?

The Magician’s Elephant Plot Summary

The Magician’s Elephant is a new animated movie currently streaming on Netflix. Based on the children’s novel by Kate DiCamillo, the movie tells the story of a young boy named Peter who is desperate to find his long-lost sister. A fortune teller lets him know that his sister is still alive and to find her, he is instructed by the clairvoyant to “follow the elephant.”

But as elephants don’t exist in Peter’s part of the world, this is easier said than done! Does Peter find his sister? Let’s take a closer look at this enchanting movie:

What happened to Peter’s sister?

Peter lives in the town of Baltese with a crotchety old gentleman named Vilna. This man used to be a soldier and during a time of war, he came across a shelter where Peter and his sister Adele were being looked after by a nun called Sister Marie.

The two children had been orphaned because of the war but when Vilna discovered them, he offered to give Peter a home. As he felt unable to take in two children at that time, he left Adele in the care of Sister Marie.

Does Adele survive the war?

Peter has been told by Vilna that his sister is dead but he is still optimistic that she might still be alive.

One day, while shopping at the market, Peter comes across a fortune teller’s tent that has miraculously appeared.

He visits the fortune teller and is overjoyed when the mystic tells him Adele is alive. She tells Peter to “follow the elephant,” as this is key to him finding his sister. But as elephants don’t roam the land that Peter lives in, finding an elephant is a seemingly impossible task.

Does Peter find an elephant?

Yes! One night, a magician performs in Peter’s town. He isn’t very good at magic so does little to please his audience. But just before they make an early exit from his show, the magician has one last trick up his sleeve (not literally) and he accidentally conjures up an elephant that falls from the sky and crushes the legs of the elderly Madam LeVaughn, who reluctantly volunteered to help him with his final act.

When the angry old woman demands the magician’s arrest, he is taken into custody. The elephant is also imprisoned and is sentenced to be put down.

Peter’s neighbour, Captain Leo Matienne, finds out the fate of the elephant after speaking to the Countess of Baltise, a young woman who is grieving the loss of her brother who died in the war. She is unable to petition for its release so Leo contacts the King and lets him know about the elephant.

Leo knows of the request given to Peter by the fortune teller so finds a way to give him access to the captive animal.

Unfortunately, the elephant is in bad spirits. She has been covered in chalk patterns, presumably to impress the King and the Countess, and this causes the animal to become agitated when presented to the two dignitaries.

When Peter calms the elephant down, the King and Countess promise Peter anything he requests. He asks them to release the elephant so he can follow the animal to his sister. When the Countess tells Peter that his mission is dangerous and impossible, the King has an idea. He tells Peter that the elephant will be given to him if he carries out 3 impossible tasks. Understandably, Peter agrees, despite the challenges ahead of him.

What are the three impossible tasks?

Peter’s first task is to defeat Romain De Smedt, the King’s greatest warrior in combat. As Peter is much smaller and far less battle-ready, this does seem like an impossibility. But when he remembers a story that De Smedt once told him from a book of fairy tales, he runs to the warrior’s house to get the book. Peter thinks the book will trigger the warrior’s own childhood memories and hopes that these memories will make him lay down his sword. His plan works. When DeSmedt sees the book, he is reminded of the times his mother read him stories as a child and he relinquishes his sword.

Peter’s second task is to fly! Again, this seems like an impossibility, but Peter is able to glide through the air using a parachute that has been created by Leo and his wife Gloria.

The King is unsure of what the third impossible task should be. But when the Countess is unimpressed by his attempts at humouring her, he comes to the conclusion that making her laugh is impossible. This is his inspiration for the third task and he tells Peter that the elephant will be freed if he manages to make the Countess laugh. Peter manages to think of a joke but it falls as flat as one of the magician’s terrible magic acts.

When Peter fails the third task, the King orders his men to take the elephant. Peter is distraught when he thinks the elephant’s life is in danger and he asks the King to send the elephant back to its home country. At this point, the fortune teller arrives on the scene. She freezes time, grabs a cat, sprinkles pepper on the surprised kitty, and places it near the elephant’s trunk.

When the fortune teller unfreezes time, the elephant sniffs the pepper and this causes her to sneeze all over the King. This makes the Countess laugh and as the King thinks Peter has something to do with this, he agrees to let Peter have the elephant.

Does the elephant lead Peter to his sister?

Not quite! Peter doesn’t need to follow the elephant anywhere as his sister is already in town. Sister Marie, who had raised Adele from infancy, has brought her to the town to meet the elephant.

Adele and Peter meet but they don’t realize who one another is at first. But when Sister Marie recognizes Vilna, a connection is made, and the children realize they are brother and sister.

The two are reunited and as the movie ends, we see that they are living together as a family with Leo, Gloria, Vilna, and Sister Marie.

The children aren’t the only ones to find a family. After being released from prison, the magician is able to send the elephant back home to her family.

During the final voiceover, we are told that the elephant never forgot Peter. This is of little surprise of course, because as we all know, elephants never forget!


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