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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?


After the first day of shooting, when actor John Hurt was exposed for the first time to the inconveniences of having his make-up applied and walking around in it, he called his wife, saying, "I think they finally managed to make me hate acting." See more »


Although it claims to be based on non-fictional writings and primary sources, the movie is full of historical inaccuracies and fictionalized incidents, starting with the fact that Merrick's first name was actually Joseph, not John. 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 »


Featured in The 53rd Annual Academy Awards (1981) See more »


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

i'm speechless
14 August 2002 | by (Reykjavík, Iceland) – See all my reviews

I just watched this movie last night and i must say... it touched me in a way no other movie has... some of the scenes even brought me to tears, which has never happened to me before.... John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins are simple incredible, and this movie is just filled with unforgettable scenes....

but like some people have mentioned here before, it is an incredibly hard movie to watch, especially after you realize what a sweet, kind, smart and innocent man John Merrick was, it is often painful to watch the way he's treated by some people, and like Hopkins says after he sees him for the first time "I pray to god that he's an idiot", sadly, he is everything but that...

10/10, no question

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This made me cry.... royalewithcheese2020
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