The Elephant Man

1980, Movie, PG, 125 mins

Review

ELEPHANT MAN, THE
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THE ELEPHANT MAN features an Academy Award-nominated performance by John Hurt as John Merrick, the victim of a disease that has left him so grotesquely deformed, he's spent most of his life as a carnival-show freak. In time, Merrick comes under the care of Dr. Treves (brilliantly played by Anthony Hopkins), who installs the "Elephant Man" in a hospital, where he studies him, helps him to overcome a seemingly insurmountable speech impediment, and--for a time--gives him back some human dignity. As word gets out about Merrick's existence and the press once again turns him into a freak, the film raises the question of Treves's motivation: has he helped Merrick out of decency, in the name of medical science, or to enhance his own reputation?

A moving, faithful retelling of a bizarre true story, THE ELEPHANT MAN was nominated for eight Oscars (though it won none), including a Best Direction nod for David Lynch. The black-and-white cinematography of Freddie Francis wonderfully evokes 19th-century England and Hurt gives a tour de force performance, masterfully conveying emotions while unable to use his face or even much of his voice. leave a comment

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