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The Elephant Man (1980)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  10 October 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 148,642 users  
Reviews: 347 user | 115 critic

A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 3 more credits »
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Top 250 Movies #139 | Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bytes' Boy
Pat Gorman ...
Fairground Bobby
Claire Davenport ...
Fat Lady


John Merrick (whose real name was Joseph, as this is based on a true story) is an intelligent and friendly man, but he is hated by his Victorian-era English society because he is severely deformed. Once he is discovered by a doctor, however, he is saved from his life in a freak show and he is treated like the human being that he really is. Written by Sam Cibula

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


I am not an animal! I am a human being! man!


Biography | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

10 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El hombre elefante  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)


SEK 2,253,306 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although critically acclaimed, there are some film critics (including Roger Ebert) who accuse the film of excessive sentiment. They tend to attribute it to David Lynch relying heavily on Frederick Treves' memoirs for source material. See more »


Although it claims to be based on non-fictional writings and primary sources, the movie is full of historical inaccuracies and fictionalised incidents. See more »


[first lines]
Skeleton Man: Get rid of them! I don't want to see them!
Fat Lady: Darling, don't be difficult! Let's take our sweet lovely children on an outing.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Closing disclaimer: This has been based upon the true life story of John Merrick, known as The Elephant Man, and not upon the Broadway play of the same title or any other fictional account. See more »


Referenced in The House of the Spirits (1993) See more »


Adagio for Strings
By Samuel Barber
Played by London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by André Previn (as Andre Previn)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Nothing Will Die.
30 July 2003 | by (Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) – See all my reviews

This movie changed my life forever. To see someone so beautiful, dignified, and unique, hidden behind a body and face that society considers ugly, made me realize how the body is a decaying pile of dust, but the soul is a breath-taking and uniquely formed indestructible diamond.

I believe that everyone should get a chance to see this film, for those of an open mind, and a caring soul, there is nothing else like it.

It also shows the detestable ways some people treat others. I felt at first pity for John Merrick, but then my feelings changed to admiration, as the film went on. John, in the film starts as a severely deformed mute figure being badly mistreated, as the story progresses, he becomes the hero. A bold and courageous man, standing against the evils of modern society.

Joseph (John) Merrick, was a man so one-of-a-kind, that someone else like him physically or emotionally will never appear again. His life should be taken as an example to everyone.

As in the film, John's mother says "Nothing will Die", Joseph Merrick will live on in the hearts and souls of everyone who has witnessed the story of his life.

My love goes to Joseph Merrick, where ever he may be.

305 of 339 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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This made me cry.... roaddog54
Impossible movies to not cry on? Top 5. blazetariq
Why is it b+w if it's from the 80's? lady-dinobug
Proof David Lynch Isn't Insane gamoore0
Blue Velvet Vs. The Elephant Man, which is Lynch's masterpiece? chrisjarmer
How many people watched this because of Karl Pilkington? gamoore0
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