Directed by David Lynch
Based on the book The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences by Frederick Treves
Screenplay by Eric Bergren, Christopher De Vore, and David Lynch
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt, Anne Bancroft, Freddie Jones, John Gielgud
Surgeon Frederick Treves (Hopkins) has rescued a terribly disfigured man from a life as a sideshow attraction. This man, John Merrick (Hurt), is a mystery to Treves and the rest of the medical staff. As Treves begins working with Merrick, he discovers an intelligent and sensitive man trapped behind his disfigured body.
This Best Picture nominated film was directed by David Lynch (Mulholland Drive). The film also earned Lynch a nomination for Best Director. In addition, the film earned Lynch, Eric Bergren (Frances), and Christopher De Vore (Hamlet) an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film features a great cast that includes John Hurt (The Proposition), Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs), and Anne Bancroft (The Graduate). The movie also stars Freddie Jones (Dune) and John Gielgud (Gandhi).
This story is a great drama with a unique sensibility built into it. The story seems to focus mainly on the humanity of the characters. For Frederick Treves, the story seems to watch him evolve as he grows to appreciate Merrick. For Merrick, the story is written to illustrate his deep desire to be more like the people in the world around him. The mix of acceptance and horror from the people around Merrick creates a sense of sadness in the characters as well. The writing also brings the Victorian era to life with a series of great scenes that illustrate the class divisions and other social barriers. The mix of fact and fiction in this one work nicely in telling the story.
John Hurt earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for this movie. His performance as the sensitive and complicated Merrick is wonderful. Throughout the movie his ability to bring out the emotion from behind the costume is awesome. In addition, his physical adjustments really make this character believable. Anthony Hopkins is also good in this one. His role seems to balance the story out. While Hurt has all of the emotion and intensity, Hopkins had to play a reserved and composed character. The result is a nice chemistry between the two that make this a fun watch. In addition, Bancroft, Jones, and Gielgud all do a good job with their roles. Overall, the acting in this one is great, and really works wonderfully with the story.
The film also has some great artistic and technical aspects. The music, written by John Morris (Blazing Saddles), earned an Oscar nomination for Best Score. The movie also earned nominations for Best Editing, Best Costuming, and Best Art Direction. The use of black and white film also adds to the feel of this movie. Overall, the production of this movie is unique and wonderful. In the world of historical and biographical films, this stands alone with the unique feel of the movie.
If you’re a fan of Lynch I hope you’ve already seen this one. I would also recommend this one to fans of any of the stars. This is a good choice for fans of the Victorian era, as well as fans of historical films. I give this one 4.6 out of 5 stars.