The Elephant Man - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Elephant Man Reviews

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½ September 29, 2016
This is perhaps 30 minutes longer than it needs to be and slightly less interesting than it could be but Lynch tells a nice, if not relatively straight forward story in a beautifully shot way.
½ September 14, 2016
A measured dose of Dickens, a gothic subject, treated to an appropriate black and white cinematography. The sentimentality constantly runs the risk of going overboard, as it would with any movie like this, but it is kept in check by the tragedy. It has no outright message, it lets the movement of human emotion do the talking. This is the last film directed by David Lynch that I had yet to see, and it is one of the best. A reminder that the director is not only a mastermind of the uncanny but of sincere sympathy. Lynch is deeply sympathetic with his character's struggles and he pushes aside self awareness with how expressing such a sympathy can be uncomfortable. It gives each of his movies, even Dune, an earnestness.

Like Twin Peaks, Elephant Man seeks to enter into a person's inner life and force them to ask the question, "Am I a good man, or a bad man?" As well as reconsider how we see each other, compared to our impression of them. To question our own motives, before showing that we can only question for so long until we simply must give in to a hope that others are sincere.

The ending was moving because John Merrick's finished cathedral is something that we all want to give the world. A message in a bottle that tells others what is really in our heart.
½ August 23, 2016
A sad depiction of the true story of Joseph Merrick.
July 19, 2016
David Lynch is a genius when it comes to the weird and absurd. He puts a lot of imagination into his films, and its interesting to see what he can do in each of them. Eraserhead was the 1st film that I saw from him. Over time, it grew on me to an extent to be my 4th favorite film of all time (currently). The Elephant Man was the 2nd film I watched from him. Even though its story is more grounded, it still manages to keep Lynch's absurdity feeling present found in most of his filmography.

A Victorian surgeon named Frederick Treves rescues a horribly disfigured man named Joseph Merrick who's mistreated, and works as a side-show freak for a living. Behind his disturbing appearance is an intelligent person who Frederick begins to appreciate as they continue to spend more time together.

Often, when movies contain bleak plots like this film or attempt to make the viewer feel sadness throughout them, it's very easy for them to be crippled by feeling overly emotionally manipulative. This can also easily hinder the viewer's immersion with the film their watching. For that reason, it seemed unlikely that this film would be able to succeed concerning the hopelessness of its plot. Despite that, however, Lynch was able to make one of the saddest films I've ever seen without making it feel overly sentimental or cheesy whatsoever. By firmly sticking to the facts of the true story this was based on, he did all that was required for him to do in order to make this film into a powerful experience. Also, we got to know more about John Merrick throughout the film as Lynch did a good job at developing his sensitivity and intelligence. This proved to be a highly powerful characteristic which made the film stand out so well. It makes many other feel-good films crumble into dust when compared to this one.

The acting is another high point to the film. John Hurt as Joseph Merrick gave an amazing performance. Underneath all of the disturbing makeup, he is able to project humanity. Also, his voice was very muffled, like one would expect. Despite that, however, his voice was still understandable, and I was able to make out his voice without having to try too hard to listen or replay a line of dialogue. He stole the show. Also, Anthony Hopkins as Frederick Treves gave a great performance as well. He was able to convincingly play a doctor trying to help Merrick without ever sounding bland. Both of them did pretty good as the 2 main roles. I had no glaring issues with the rest of the cast.

The visuals were pretty good. Since the movie was set in the last 1800's, the black and white seemed fitting, and it made sense for a movie set over 100 years ago to have black and white. Also, the make-up on John Hurt looked gross and realistic. To make it, Lynch looked at different photographs of the real Joseph Merrick. Also, after this film wasn't recognized at the Academy awards for its make-up effects, tons of people wrote angry letters to them, demanding them to give the film an award for Lynch's recreation of Joseph Merrick. They didn't do it, but they did create a new award called "Best Makeup" with "An American Werewolf in London" being the first to receive it. Since the effects inspired all of that to happen, I'd say that it did something right. Also, because of the black and white, the disturbing and realistic make-up effects on John Hurt managed to look gross without distracting me from the movie.

When it comes to historical accuracy, this film isn't the most accurate film out there. It had several inaccuracies. Firstly, the events from the films famous railway station scene happened before Merrick stayed at the hospital. Secondly, the whole kidnapping sub-plot never happened. Merrick went to Europe on his own accords. Mr. Bytes, the original cruel owner of Joseph Merrick, never existed. Bytes was based off of Tom Norman. Thirdly, it's likely that Tom Norman was never as cruel as the movie made him out to be. Fourthly, Frederick Treves never had to rescue Joseph Merrick from Tom Norman. A few weeks after Joseph Merrick started working with Tom Norman, their exhibit was seen as 'distasteful', and it was shut down by the police. After that happened, Joseph and Tom went their separate ways. In addition, several operations were required to enable Joseph Merrick to talk. Finally, his first name was not "John". It was "Joseph".

In conclusion, I enjoyed this film. It succeeds where many feel-good films fail at. It has great acting and gross and realistic effects made even better by the black and white cinematography. This may not be the most historically accurate film out there, and it may be a bit dull in a few places near the middle, but it's still pretty good. I'm going to check out more of Lynch's films in the future. People who aren't a fan of Lynch's work tend to agree that this one and The Straight Story are his best films as they prefer his more straightforward work. I think that this was pretty good as well. It just needed some polishing in a few areas.
June 30, 2016
Greatest performance and direction of modern film in this harrowing tale of a sideshow freak.
June 1, 2016
Beautiful b&w photography. Touching story coupled with Lynch's trademark surrealism, a masterpiece.
½ May 2, 2016
Excellent. Heartbreaking movie. Great performances. John Hurt really makes your heart bleed for this character. Probably the most straight forward movie I've seen by Lynch...
April 30, 2016
The Elephant Man captures the essence that was of John Merrick. The cinematography was excellent as well as the acting. I'll admit it started out pretty slow. But the more the movie progressed the more interesting it got. It's an excellent film through and through.
½ April 24, 2016
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 as well as misshapen because of his inability to speak coherently. In fact, he is highly intelligent and sensitive, a fact made public when one Dr. Frederick Treves (Anthony Hopkins) rescues Merrick from a carnival and brings him to a hospital for analysis. Alas, even after being recognized as a man of advanced intellect, Merrick is still treated like a freak; no matter his station in life, he will forever be a prisoner of his own malformed body. Unable to secure rights for the famous stage play The Elephant Man, producer Mel Brooks based his film on the memoirs of Frederick Treves and a much later account of Merrick's life by Ashley Montagu. The film is lensed in black and white by British master cinematographer Freddie Francis. Though nominated for eight Academy Awards, the film was ultimately shut out in every category.
April 16, 2016
Not completely factually accurate but nonetheless a gripping and heart breaking film, Hurt's performance is wonderful as is Hopkins'. Geilgud steals the show in his small appearances. overall a wonderful movie, and I defy anyone to not be moved.
½ March 19, 2016
David Lynch directs the Oscar nominated film The Elephant Man. Anthony Hopkins is a doctor who comes across a freak like human being known as the elephant man. He takes him out of the circus and begins to treat and educate him. Despite all his efforts the appearance of the elephant man (John Hurt) startles most while others laugh and ridicule and try and gain financially upon it. Elephant Man gets its point across pretty quickly and some what goes on a bit too much, but it is an interesting and provocative film that makes can be draining emotionally.
March 6, 2016
A pretty depressing film,but very visually impressive
March 2, 2016
David Lynch's best movie in terms of success. A very sad movie. Hard to watch more than once though.
February 21, 2016
People might call this movie emotionally manipulative, i call this movie emotionally effective. This is hands down the saddest movie anyone will ever watch. Each and every single scene is so emotionally loaded it almost feels like you're suffocating, you might think i'm exaggerating, i'm not. This is just a 2 hour movie but when i was halfway through i thought i'd witnessed a 3 and a half hour movie. This movie is definitely not easy to watch, neither is it for the weak-hearted, nor is it a movie you'd want to pop in on a friday night, this is an extremely emotional, difficult to bear movie going experience. This doesnt seem like a recommendation, but it is, this is a one of a kind movie that is a must watch for everyone, because this is probably the most special biographical film ever made. It's sad, emotional, and aggravating, yet beautiful and special. This movie makes you hate humanity, but love the humane.
From the very first time you see John Merrick, you feel for him. On first hand he looks like a monster, but soon after you very easily are starting to feel for him, and everything that happens around him. This movie is a life lesson for everyone, it makes clear that the outside of a human being is just lifeless sack of flesh and skin surrounding an indestructible polished bright diamond, that is one's soul.

The best moment in the film is where John has been chased around the train station after being recognized as The Elephant Man, then forced into a corner by a hurd of people, John yells out with all of his power and will: ''I'm not a monster, I'm not an elephant, i'm a human being.... I am a MAN!'', this is the breaking point for every audience member, doesn't matter how tough you are, after everything you've witnessed alongside John and Frederick, you will cry.
This movie left me emotionally and physically wrecked after seeing it, and when a movie can achieve such a level of movement in me, it deserves its spot on my top 50

(Note: After crying 3 times at the half way point of the movie, i lost count.)

The Elephant Man is a movie experience that's indescribable.
½ February 11, 2016
The moving story of John Merrick is meticulously displayed in monochromatic delight amid the juxtaposition of the harshness of Industrial Victorian England in what is easily Lynch's finest film.
February 3, 2016
Lynch succeeds in both being himself enough to make the film delightfully fresh, and in backing himself away enough to let the spirit of Merrick speak. One of the most beautiful, thought provoking, and memorable films I've ever seen.
January 14, 2016
first saw this as a kid on TV thought it was creepy! but seeing it now it's a beautiful movie as kid thought it was a scary movie but as grown up its true story about man that looks creepy but has a lot of heart !!
January 10, 2016
One of the best films I have ever seen.
November 13, 2015
A lot of people will find something in this film they can relate to.
October 26, 2015
Powerful story based on a real person, John Merrick. Excellent acting from John Hurt as Merrick and Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Treves. Filmed in black and white deliberately, it truly hits a home run in this gut wrenching story. Read the biography before hand so you can enjoy the amount of detail that was added to this classic film.
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