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The Elephant Man (1980)

PG  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  10 October 1980 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 148,472 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 11 wins & 13 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?


Frederick Treves:  The great-nephew of Doctor Frederick Treves, appears in the opening scene as an Alderman trying to close down the freak show. See more »


When we see an image of smoking pipe stacks, it's obviously stock footage because it's much grainier then the rest of the film. 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 An Idiot Abroad: The Short Way Around: China (2012) 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

In a word - excellent but also extremely sad...
5 December 1999 | by (Dublin) – See all my reviews

Hi all,

I saw this movie for the 1st time on 5th December 1999. I was about to go to sleep as it was about 00-40 in the morning and I flicked over to the movie and even though I was falling asleep as I flicked over to it, within five minutes I was wide awake and totally captivated.

Everyone knows the tale of John Merrick, it is so sad and painful to watch and see a man with above average intelligence trapped by his physical deformity and to be physically and mentally abused and tortured for a few meagre pence.

I thought Sir John Gieulgud(?) and Sir Anthony Hopkins were both excellent in their respective roles. John Hurt did Merrick proud.

I had a bit more than water in my eye on 4 occasions during this movie and not ashamed to admit it either. This is the 1st movie to make me cry.

On the Kleenex scale - Titanic is 1 and this is 10!

A movie not to be missed but be prepared to be disgusted and upset by the story told.


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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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