The Elephant Man (1980)



Critic Consensus: David Lynch's relatively straight second feature finds an admirable synthesis of compassion and restraint in treating its subject, and features outstanding performances by John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins.

The Elephant Man Videos & Photos

Movie Info

In this film, John Hurt stars as John Merrick, the hideously deformed 19th-century Londoner known as "The Elephant Man." Treated as a sideshow freak, Merrick is assumed to be retarded. In fact, he is highly intelligent and sensitive, a fact made public when one Dr. Frederick Treves rescues Merrick from a carnival.

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Christopher DeVore, Eric Bergren, Christopher De Vore, David Lynch
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 11, 2001


as John Merrick

as Dr. Frederick Treves

as Mrs. Kendal

as Mothershead

as Night Porter

as Mrs. Treves

as Princess Alex

as Bytes' Boy

as Merrick's Mother

as Fairground Bobby

as Skeleton Man

as Distraught Woman

as Siamese Twins

as Fire Eater

as Messenger

as Cabbie

as Milkman

as Fighting Woman

as Fighting Woman

as Broadneck

as 1st Committeeman

as Mrs. Kendal's Dresse...

as Lady Waddington

as Lord Waddington

as Man with Whores

as Plumed Dwarf

as Japanese Bleeder

as Little John

as Screaming Woman

as King in Panto

as Puss in Panto

as Princess in Panto

as Principal Boy

as Lion/Coachman

as Little John
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Critic Reviews for The Elephant Man

All Critics (41) | Top Critics (7)

This is a tale of redemption and transcendence, of the hunchback of London Hospital, of the noble phantom who wanted to go to the opera, of Beauty and the Beast.

Full Review… | April 22, 2014
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Lynch's powerful depiction of Merrick (played by John Hurt) moves a viewer from revulsion and fear to empathy and tenderness. That's the very movement of the story itself.

Full Review… | April 22, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

The picture itself is a strange trade-off between Lynch's personal themes -- the night world of obscure, disturbing sexual obsessions -- and the requirements of a middlebrow message movie.

Full Review… | April 30, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Director David Lynch has created an eerily compelling atmosphere in recounting a hideously deformed man's perilous life in Victorian England.

Full Review… | April 30, 2008
Top Critic

A marvellous movie, shot in stunning black-and-white by Freddie Francis.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

I kept asking myself what the film was really trying to say about the human condition as reflected by John Merrick, and I kept drawing blanks.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Elephant Man


Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Take away all the famous names in this work and you'd still be left with the story of a very human soul tormentingly imprisoned in a lump of his own hideous flesh. The big names then do the story well: Lynch controls his usual antics to deliver understatement (a shock in itself), Hopkins as the well meaning doctor who actually uses the animal just like everyone until he realizes his mistake, Bancroft is no embarassment, Gielgud and Hiller are the rocks the story rests on ... but Hurt, as the man himself, is exemplary. Well, Hurt and the makeup guy. Look for the tea scene.

Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

David Lynch's The Elephant Man is a surreal masterwork about the life of John Merrick who was a several deformed man. Beautifully shot in glorious Black & White, David Lynch captures a certain atmosphere with this picture, one that acts as part of the story to elevate the dramatic tone of the experience. Anthony Hopkins is phenomenal as Frederick Treves a sympathetic doctor who tries to help Merrick. This is a superb film that showcases the kindness of the human nature. This is a terrific drama that will certainly please cinema buffs. The acting of John Hurt is spectacular as John Merrick and considering how difficult his performances must have been, he definitely did deserve an Oscar of some kind. Unfortunately this stunning picture would only be nominated and come out empty handed. Everything about this film is beautiful, the cinematography immaculate, and the choice to shoot this in Black & White brings out the subtle qualities of this true story. David Lynch, who previously directed the surrealistic psychological horror film Eraserhead, crafts something unique with The Elephant Man, and he goes deep into the cruelty of humanity and also brings out the best in human nature as well. This is not a film for everyone, but if you're looking for a compelling real life drama, then give this one a shot. With Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt's performances alone, The Elephant Man stands as one of the best films of 1980's. This is filmmaking at its best and David Lynch has made his masterpiece with this one. With a strong cast and terrific storytelling, this is a marvelous film that is moving, poignant and simply unforgettable.

Alex roy

Super Reviewer

The Elephant Man Quotes

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