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The Elephant Man (1980)

8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 121,623 users  
Reviews: 325 user | 100 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 #128 | 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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Mrs. Treves
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:

The Elephant Man  »

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Lynch narrowed his choices for the film's cinematographer down to two names; Christopher Challis, who was considered a safe pair of hands, or Freddie Francis, who Lynch considered to be a much more talented cinematographer, but hadn't worked in that role since 1964. Lynch decided to go with his gut instinct and hire Francis after producer Stuart Cornfeld told him that "no-one ever made it big by being a pussy." 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 Vanilla Sky (2001) 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

If Your Life Sucks Watch This Movie
27 July 2004 | by (Red Bud) – See all my reviews

'I am not an animal! I am a human being! I …am …a man!'

John Merrick (as portrayed in The Elephant Man)

'If Your Life Sucks, Watch this Movie' 'The Elephant Man,' directed by David Lynch and written by Sir Frederick Treves and Ashley Montagu, is a macabre story about Dr. Frederick 'Freddie' Treves (Anthony Hopkins) who shows compassion for a man with Proteous Syndrome John Merrick (John Hurt). The story is based on the true account of John Merrick's life as a side show freak in the nineteenth century. The viewer is taken on a journey of a man trying to regain some self-respect and the doctor who is helping him to do so.

If you are like me and in a bad space in your life, watch this movie. Although a depressing film there are brief moments of hope with the interaction of Merrick and Treves. But, mostly it is scene after scene of abuse, torture and the dark side of human nature. This is not a movie that a viewer is going to want to watch time and time again. Watching this movie is like being drug through a crime scene, most don't want to look but most can't help themselves. After viewing the film, I felt a lot better about my life, and right now I am unemployed, fat and alone.

That being said, the movie taken as a work of art was excellent. The black and white cinematography really added to the Victorian feel of the nineteenth century. The character development was superb and the acting of Hopkins and Hurt phenomenal. The makeup and costuming was dark as the film itself and the direction by Lynch, using his signature 'dream' scenes only added to the dimness of the entire film. I highly recommend this film once because it is beautifully directed and a great story. But, unless you are a masochist, once is enough.


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