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The Elephant Man (1980)

I am not an animal! I am a human being! I...am...a man!

Starring:

Anne Bancroft

Anthony HopkinsAnthony Hopkins

Dexter Fletcher

Freddie Jones

Hannah Gordon

Helen Ryan

John Gielgud

John HurtJohn Hurt

Phoebe Nicholls

Wendy Hiller

Directed by:

David Lynch

Rating: 9/10

Running Time: 124 minutes

US Certificate: PG UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

The Elephant Man is based on a remarkable true story of John Merrick (Hurt) a man with a face so deformed that he is known by many as by the grisly moniker of the film’s title. Merrick is ‘owned’ by the unscrupulous Bytes (Jones) and forced to work as a freak show in a travelling circus but one day he escapes and is taken in by the kindly Dr. Treves (Hopkins). Some humanity is restored to Merrick’s life however Bytes will not rest until he gets his prize possession back.

The prosthetic make up is excellent and just looking at Merrick makes your forehead ache, however the addition of black and white is genuis and it helps to focus the detail away from Merrick’s features and more towards his personality and the interplay between the characters. It’s really down to the excellent performances of John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins, and the writing and direction of David Lynch which creates such a believable relationship and easy to respect character. Whilst drawing out the messages of hope, disillusionment and humanity, the lessons never become saccharine sweet and overplayed and constantly flit between pity and respect for the unlucky lad. It would be so easy to include unintentional humour but Lynch is a master and never strays anywhere near.

Overall, The Elephant Man is an underrated classic of the Eighties thanks very much to an inspirational tale, two great performances and David Lynch doing some good stuff at the helm.

It's Got: Classic Lynch surrealism, a brave black and white move, some iconic lines

It Needs: The praise to be focussed on Hurt and Hopkins rather than the admittedly good make up job

DVD Extras Pretty interesting if not a little compact - we get a short documentary with interviews, make up demonstrations and a small library of still resources DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Summary

A remarkable true story brought to life in the most original and fascinating way by David Lynch.

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