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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.
All Critics (44)
| Top Critics (7)
| Fresh (40)
| Rotten (4)
| DVD (8)
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.
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.
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.
Director David Lynch has created an eerily compelling atmosphere in recounting a hideously deformed man's perilous life in Victorian England.
A marvellous movie, shot in stunning black-and-white by Freddie Francis.
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.
As strange and modern as Lynch's vision is, The Elephant Man looks back to cinema's beginnings, with its images of locomotives and cinematic tricks that recall Georges Méliès.
The theme is something of a self-pitying cliché, and yet Lynch takes such a novel path to it that the film has a hypnotic, transcendent force.
The Elephant Man is a perfect movie and, as John Hurt once said "If you're not moved by the time The Elephant Man is over...then you're not someone I want to know." I agree.
...at its best when the story and period trappings serve Lynch's vision, and vice versa.
This stylish, poignant drama is probably the closest director David Lynch has got to the mainstream outside of the disastrous Dune.
The playing is finely judged, the black-and-white cinematography is effective and the whole thing manages to be truly moving in a way that overcomes all the "I am not an animal!" schmaltz.
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.
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.
One of the most tame and straight forward of Lynch's films, atleast on the surface. Look closer and you'll see all the things Lynch is now famous for (dream sequences, white noise, etc.).
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