8.2/10
161,437
356 user 116 critic

The Elephant Man (1980)

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.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
1,569 ( 82)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Top Rated Movies #142 | Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Blue Velvet (1986)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of psychopathic criminals who have kidnapped her child.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dennis Hopper
Eraserhead (1977)
Fantasy | Horror | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Henry Spencer tries to survive his industrial environment, his angry girlfriend, and the unbearable screams of his newly born mutant child.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Allen Joseph
Lost Highway (1997)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After a bizarre encounter at a party, a jazz saxophonist is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to prison, where he inexplicably morphs into a young mechanic and begins leading a new life.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Bill Pullman, Patricia Arquette, John Roselius
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in a twisting venture beyond dreams and reality.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, Justin Theroux
Wild at Heart (1990)
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Young lovers Sailor and Lula run from the variety of weirdos that Lula's mom has hired to kill Sailor.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe
Inland Empire (2006)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

As an actress starts to adopt the persona of her character in a film, her world starts to become nightmarish and surreal.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Laura Dern, Jeremy Irons, Justin Theroux
Biography | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

An old man makes a long journey by lawn-mover tractor to mend his relationship with an ill brother.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek, Jane Galloway Heitz
Drama | Fantasy | Horror
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A young FBI agent disappears while investigating a murder miles from Twin Peaks that may be related to the future murder of Laura Palmer; the last week of the life of Laura Palmer is chronicled.

Director: David Lynch
Stars: Sheryl Lee, Ray Wise, Mädchen Amick
Raging Bull (1980)
Biography | Drama | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  

An emotionally self-destructive boxer's journey through life, as the violence and temper that leads him to the top in the ring destroys his life outside it.

Director: Martin Scorsese
Stars: Robert De Niro, Cathy Moriarty, Joe Pesci
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A man seeks answers about life, death, and the existence of God as he plays chess against the Grim Reaper during the Black Plague.

Director: Ingmar Bergman
Stars: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot
Barry Lyndon (1975)
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

An Irish rogue wins the heart of a rich widow and assumes her dead husband's aristocratic position in 18th-century England.

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Stars: Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

An in-depth examination of the ways in which the U.S. Vietnam War impacts and disrupts the lives of people in a small industrial town in Pennsylvania.

Director: Michael Cimino
Stars: Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, John Cazale
Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

10 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El hombre elefante  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Director David Lynch originally wanted John Hurt to wear a whole body suit to play Merrick, but the costume was too unwieldy and unworkable to wear. See more »

Goofs

In nearly every scene, John Hurt's make-up changes in some way. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Britain's 50 Greatest Comedy Sketches (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One of the greatest films, but so little appreciated

I first saw The Elephant Man at its pre-release showing in 1980, and it struck an immediate and resonant chord with me. Few movies are like this, and it remains (many viewings later) one of my top 10 films of all time.

The plot is presented well in other reviews here, so I will not repeat it or comment further. Of the film itself I would only add that it is without doubt the most mature and satisfying of David Lynch's works - in many ways it is the final, polished jewel carved from the rough and ugly (but fascinating) diamond of Eraserhead, with the self-conscious artiness and juvenile qualities of the earlier film distilled into a potent and poignant statement on the human condition.

Some critics have dismissed The Elephant Man as an exercise in emotional manipulation, however I believe this completely misses the point. All films are manipulative to some degree, but it is a manipulation in which we as an audience engage by consent. The Elephant Man will stand the final test and it will be appreciated fully by future audiences, in much the same way as Citizen Kane had to wait for some decades until audiences were able to fully comprehend its greatness.


84 of 94 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
This made me cry.... royalewithcheese2020
Impossible movies to not cry on? Top 5. blazetariq
John TheAcadian
Is There a Movie much sadder than this Masterpiece !! slayerkolik13
Why is it b+w if it's from the 80's? lady-dinobug
Proof David Lynch Isn't Insane gamoore0
Discuss The Elephant Man (1980) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?