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.
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.
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.
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
The opening scene of Merrick's mother being attacked by an elephant is not factual; his deformities were the result of disease, and he was called "The Elephant Man" because of his lumpy skin. However, the idea of an elephant attack comes from the melodramatic speech originally delivered by Tom Norman to those who paid to see Merrick exhibited. 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 »
Get rid of them! I don't want to see them!
Darling, don't be difficult! Let's take our sweet lovely children on an outing.
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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 »
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.
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