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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.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #143 | 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! I...am...a 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)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


When Paramount studio executives were shown a cut of the film, they wanted the film's opening and closing surrealist sequences to be cut. Executive producer Mel Brooks, according to producer Stuart Cornfeld, said to them: "We are involved in a business venture. We screened the film for you to bring you up to date as to the status of that venture. Do not misconstrue this as our soliciting the input of raging primitives." See more »


When Carr Gomm first meets John Merrick, he walks close up to him. In the next shot he is way back from him, then close again. 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 Ricky Gervais Show: The Diary (2010) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Almost Too Heart-Wrenching To Watch
1 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Man, this is a powerful and great movie. We are all moved different degrees by different things, but to witness sincerely nice people being treated cruelly always bothers me big- time....so this film is tough to watch in spots. Some scenes are just painful and depressing to view.

Whatever your sensitivity, the movie is very involving and hauntingly shown with eerie black-and-white photography. Eerie, and downright beautiful camera-work in here, so kudos to cinematographer Freddie Francis, one of the best in the business.

A young Anthony Hopkins is very likable and John Hurt is, well, someone you won't soon forget as John Merrick, "The Elephant Man."

This is an uplifting movie at times, too, not just a tear-jerker or horrific in showing man's cruelty to man. Be prepared for an emotional experience and an amazing story.

111 of 124 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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This made me cry.... royalewithcheese2020
Impossible movies to not cry on? Top 5. blazetariq
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Is There a Movie much sadder than this Masterpiece !! slayerkolik13
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