A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of kindness, intelligence and sophistication.
Joseph "John" Merrick is an intelligent and friendly man, but he is hated by his Victorian-era English society because he is severely deformed. Once he is discovered by a doctor, however, he is saved from his life in a freak show and he is treated like the human being that he really is.Written by
Only David Lynch feature film made during Jack Nance's lifetime not to feature Nance among the cast. (Though Nance didn't appear in the theatrical release of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), he did film scenes for it which can be seen in Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014), and if one takes all of Twin Peaks as a whole, Nance is prominently featured. Thus, The Elephant Man is the only one not to have Nance involved at all.) See more »
00:24:19 Frederick Treves says that Merrick is a complete imbecile probably from birth, then right after that says that he's a complete idiot. Imbecile and idiot were actually psychological terms, the former being someone with an IQ between 26 and 50 and the latter being those with an IQ between 0 and 25, so nobody could be both. See more »
Get rid of them! I don't want to see them!
Darling, don't be difficult! Let's take our sweet lovely children on an outing.
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Closing disclaimer: This has been based upon the true life story of John Merrick, known as The Elephant Man, and not upon the Broadway play of the same title or any other fictional account. See more »
One of the greatest films, but so little appreciated
I first saw The Elephant Man at its pre-release showing in 1980, and it struck an immediate and resonant chord with me. Few movies are like this, and it remains (many viewings later) one of my top 10 films of all time.
The plot is presented well in other reviews here, so I will not repeat it or comment further. Of the film itself I would only add that it is without doubt the most mature and satisfying of David Lynch's works - in many ways it is the final, polished jewel carved from the rough and ugly (but fascinating) diamond of Eraserhead, with the self-conscious artiness and juvenile qualities of the earlier film distilled into a potent and poignant statement on the human condition.
Some critics have dismissed The Elephant Man as an exercise in emotional manipulation, however I believe this completely misses the point. All films are manipulative to some degree, but it is a manipulation in which we as an audience engage by consent. The Elephant Man will stand the final test and it will be appreciated fully by future audiences, in much the same way as Citizen Kane had to wait for some decades until audiences were able to fully comprehend its greatness.
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