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The Elephant Man (1980)

John Hurt , Anthony Hopkins , David Lynch  |  PG |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Fanny Carby, Gerald Case, Claire Davenport
  • Directors: David Lynch
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: December 11, 2001
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CX9S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #108,826 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Elephant Man" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Retrospective Cast and Crew Interviews
  • Interview With Academy Award Winning Make-Up Artist Christopher Tucker
  • Narrated Photo Gallery

Editorial Reviews

Prior to this breakout film, director David Lynch was a cult figure, whose only previous film was the bizarre cult favorite Eraserhead. Elephant Man was in many respects a longer, more accessible, better plotted version of Eraserhead, underlining Lynch's fascination with physical freaks and sporting the same strange atmospherics, including the constant background noise of humming and hissing machinery. John Hurt sensitively plays the title role, based on a true story about a severely deformed man in late 19th century London who becomes the star of a freak show and the toast of society. Anthony Hopkins's role firmly established his career, and the film did the same for Lynch, who became a cultural hot property. Stark and unforgiving, Elephant Man promotes Lynch's vision of a society at odds with its members. The film received eight Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, though it won none of them.Free upgrade to first class mail.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A MASTERPIECE...pure and simple! May 29, 2003
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
As I sit down to write this review, my experiences with it from my youth came flooding back. I first saw it as a 17 year old high-schooler at my local movie theater, late one evening. I had seen, and enjoyed, the Broadway play a few months earlier, and wanted to see how the movie compared. The play, I should say, was very moving and had a certain spareness in its production design that was very effective. I had left the theatre with a moist eye and an interest in learning more about John Merrick, The Elephant Man (who had neurofibromatosis, NOT elephantitis, as is so often attributed to him).

Anyway, when the movie concluded, the ENTIRE audience of 150 or so sat in its seats, numbed and unmoving. It was one of those experiences where you fight back your tears, because you're worried if you let go, you'll start bawling like a baby! The film was so profoundly moving to me and so artistically brilliant, that I went again the very next day, dragging reluctant friends with me. They were all stunned. I watched it AGAIN later that week.

I've watched it on video a couple of times years ago, but until I rewatched it recently on DVD, it had been nearly 10 years since I'd seen it.

The story is set in the early turn-of-the-twentieth-century London. John Merrick (John Hurt) is, for lack of a better word, enslaved as a sideshow freak. He has the most hideous growths on his bones, which give him a frightening appearance. His head is probably three times bigger than a normal human, and the shape resembles a lumpy dirigible. His limbs are mostly tangled messes. Noted physician Dr. Treves (Anthony Hopkins) hears of this "elephant man" and is fascinated so greatly by his condition that he brings him to his hospital for study.
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105 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-Rending and Timeless February 6, 2004
Format:DVD
"Time hath not altered" the emotional impact this movie has on me when I watch it. The word "poignant" has grown hackneyed from overuse, but it certainly applies to this great film. Few films can equal it in terms of dramatic artistry and pitch perfect performances. There's not one maudlin note in a film that could easily have descended into bathetic melodrama in lesser hands.
Lynch was practically a neophyte at the time he directed this movie, yet to many (and to most, for that matter, save the true believers) THE ELEPHANT MAN is his magnum opus. I believe this is because of the mostly Britsh, classically trained actors that made up the cast. Hopkins and Hurt excell. Anne Bancroft (who I believe is the only American in the cast) delivers a flawless performance. Freddy Jones, as Bytes (this was before the internet, remember) is simply uncanny in his tour-de-force portrayal of arguably the vilest villain in cinema history. Who cares that the character was totally innacurate, historically? He chews up the scenery in true Grand Guignol fashion. Gielgud and Wendy Hiller are also on hand to provide levitas. One can't find a better ensemble. It's criminal that at least one of them weren't awarded an Oscar, but that's just another example of how meaningless those little gold statuettes are, more often than not.
Though this is a lot more linear than most of Lynch's movies, there is enough of the surreal on hand to keep the die hards happy. But the surrealism doesn't get in the way of the plot. Christopher de Vore and Eric Bergren, who collaborated with Lynch on the screenplay, can take some credit for that. Veteran cinematographer, Freddie Francis did perhaps the best work of his career here. The black and white images are as good as it gets. The sets are unforgettable.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars They don't come any better... December 30, 2000
Format:DVD
Despite the fact that "The Elephant Man" is about a grossly deformed man, it is truly one of the most beautiful movies ever made. Director David Lynch has peered into the souls of both the "outcasts" and those considered "normal" in our society. Lynch has never been better, and the same may also be said about actors John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins.
Would-be circus man Bytes has put The Elephant Man/John Merrick (Hurt) on display in the freak show, attempting to profit from another man's misery. Dr. Frederick Treves (Hopkins) "saves" Merrick from the evil Bytes, but what does he do with Merrick? Puts him on display in another freak show of sorts for a panel of doctors. Treves has again stripped Merrick of his dignity and tried to to profit from his misery. So who is worse? Bytes or Treves?
And this is only the first 15 minutes of the film...
What eventually saves Treves is that he actually gets to know Merrick. Behind the deformity he discovers a human being.
There are so many beautiful and touching moments in this movie: Merrick's awe at watching the play, Merrick removing the pillows from his bed so he can sleep like a normal person and, of course, Merrick trapped at the train station and shouting out "I am not an animal!"
But my favorite moment comes when Merrick's fellow "freaks" in the circus help him escape. As they put him on a ship so he can hopefully find his way back home, the dwarf (Kenny Baker) says to him "Good luck, my friend. And who needs it more than us?"
Filmed in gorgeous black and white. They don't come any better than this.
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When will this excellent film be reissued again?
Probably for its 30th anniversary next year, I would think. I was watching it on cable the other night and couldn't believe it's that old, there's nothing about it that looks like 1980 to me.

Wow, this post is old. :D
Feb 22, 2009 by justfribble |  See all 3 posts
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