The Elephant Man
THE ELEPHANT MAN (PG)
D: David Lynch
Paramount/EMI/Brooksfilms (Jonathan Sanger)
USA 🇺🇸 1980
W: Christopher DeVore, Eric Bergren & David Lynch [based on the books "The Elephant Man: A Study In Human Dignity" by Ashley Montagu & "The Elephant Man & Other Reminiscences" by Sir Frederick Treves]
DP: Freddie Francis
Ed: Anne V. Coates
Mus: John Morris
PD: Stuart Craig
Cos: Patricia Norris
Anthony Hopkins (Dr. Frederick Treves), John Hurt (John Merrick), Anne Bancroft (Mrs. Kendal), John Gielgud (Carl Gomm), Wendy Hiller (Mothershead), Freddie Jones (Bytes), Michael Elphick (Night Porter), Hannah Gordon (Mrs. Treves)
On paper, David Lynch seems a strange choice of director for this biopic of John Merrick (aka The Elephant Man), a Victorian man brutally paraded as a freak at a circus sideshow, whose plight is discovered by Dr. Frederick Treves, who takes the man in and uncovers the man's humanity behind his grotesque appearance.
The performances are fantastic in this film and there are several moments of emotional poignancy and a downbeat, yet inspirational ending. At the time, the Academy Awards didn't have a regular category for Makeup, but if it had, this would have been a hands-down winner.
Director David Lynch, whose previous screen credits included the nightmarish Eraserhead, turned out to be the perfect choice to make this film, presenting a sympathetic drama in the style of an old black & white horror movie.