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The Elephant Man (1980)

8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 130,115 users  
Reviews: 335 user | 101 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.

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Top 250 #131 | Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

10 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El hombre elefante  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

SEK 2,253,306 (Sweden)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The writers based this film on the memoirs of Dr. Frederick Treves as well as other true accounts, but avoided the play by Bernard Pomerance. The true name of the Elephant Man was not John Merrick as most believe, but Joseph Carey Merrick. Merrick was born in Leicester, England on August 5, 1862, and died in the Royal London Hospital on April 11, 1890, at the age of 27. When Dr. Treves wrote his memoir, he referred to him as John. His handwritten manuscript reveals that Treves knew that Merrick's name was Joseph, and deliberately crossed out Joseph and replaced it with John. Merrick's surviving correspondence shows he signed his name as Joseph, and contemporary newspaper articles about his case refer to him by his correct name. Why Treves changed his name to John is unknown, but this movie is partly responsible for that continuing misconception. 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 Larry King Live: Episode dated 27 July 1993 (1993) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
Cuts Deep
21 July 2001 | by (Maui) – See all my reviews

There have been many films made dealing with an individual who's outer appearance is completely at odds with their inner character. Some of these films are quite good but this is by far and away the very best. This is probably one of the most perfect films ever made. It succeeds on every level. Visually it transports one into a dark, grey, industrial nightmare of a world. It's within this world that we come to discover true beauty. It lies within one hideously deformed, abused and unfortunate soul who is being kicked around in this hellish existence. The screenplay, acting, direction all come together to create this extraordinary viewing experience. You really feel like you get inside this man and his tortured existence. The ending is one of the most effective and completely engrossing I've ever seen. Rarely does a film find a way to leave us with such a sense of closure and lingering fascination. The thing that really makes this film truly great is it changes the way people see themselves, other people and the world. I can still remember the palpable air of silence and awe over the audience when leaving the theater both times I saw it on the big screen. There's a transforming quality about it. You only need to read the many other user comments to see how people were moved and changed by this film. If you haven't seen it, it's a must!


120 of 126 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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