22 November 2014

The Elephant Man (1980)
124 min.
Directed by David Lynch.
With Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones, Michael Elphick, Hannah Gordon, Helen Ryan, John Standing, Dexter Fletcher.
An exquisite, touching horror film.

Directed by David Lynch (1977's Eraserhead) and based on a true story, The Elephant Man tells the story of John Merrick, an extremely deformed man.

Merrick is discovered in a carnival freakshow by the reputable Dr. Frederick Treves (Hopkins). The doctor takes Merrick to the London Hospital, where he hopes to study his abnormalities and physical aberrations.

It's there that Treves discovers Merrick to be a highly intelligent, sophisticated human, capable of advanced thought, reasoning...and above all, deserving of dignity. But has Treves done the right thing by taking Merrick away from his brutal life as a sideshow attraction?

Set in 19th century London and eloquently photographed in B&W by cinematographer Freddie Francis, The Elephant Man has the distinguished honor of being one of those rare birds: a horror film both terrifying and terrifyingly touching.

It's true that Elephant Man isn't a conventional horror film, as much as it as a harrowing character study. But it's also true there's nothing more horrific than the indignities and cruelties Merrick suffers at the hands of his fellow "men."

Full of pathos and power, the whole thing is emboldened by a stellar performance from John Hurt as the anguished and tortured Merrick. Hurt perfectly charts Merrick's evolution from beaten animal, to a self-awakening flower, to celebutante, to...man.

Once seen, no doubt you'll ever forget Merrick's classic line: "I am not an elephant! I AM NOT AN ANIMAL! I AM A HUMAN BEING! I...AM...A MAN!"

Based on Sir Frederick Treves' The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences published in 1923.

A must see.

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