A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of kindness, intelligence and sophistication.

Director:

David Lynch

Writers:

Christopher De Vore (screenplay), Eric Bergren (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
2,127 ( 303)
Top Rated Movies #159 | Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Hopkins ... Dr. Frederick Treves
John Hurt ... John Merrick
Anne Bancroft ... Mrs. Kendal
John Gielgud ... Carr Gomm
Wendy Hiller ... Mothershead
Freddie Jones ... Bytes
Michael Elphick ... Night Porter
Hannah Gordon ... Mrs. Treves
Helen Ryan ... Princess Alex
John Standing ... Fox
Dexter Fletcher ... Bytes' Boy
Lesley Dunlop ... Nora
Phoebe Nicholls ... Merrick's Mother
Pat Gorman ... Fairground Bobby
Claire Davenport Claire Davenport ... Fat Lady
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Storyline

In Victorian London, Dr. Frederick Treves with the London Hospital comes across a circus sideshow attraction run by a man named Bytes called "The Elephant Man". In actuality, the creature on display is indeed a man, twenty-one-year-old Joseph "John" Merrick, who has several physical deformities, including an oversized and disfigured skull, and an oversized and disfigured right shoulder. Brutish Bytes, his "owner", only wants whatever he can get economically by presenting Merrick as a freak. Treves manages to bring Merrick under his care at the hospital, not without several of its own obstacles, including being questioned by those in authority since Merrick cannot be cured. Treves initially believes Bytes' assertion that mute Merrick is an imbecile, but ultimately learns that Merrick can speak and is a well-read and articulate man. As news of Merrick hits the London newspapers, he becomes a celebrated curiosity amongst London's upper class, including with Mrs. Kendal, a famed actress. ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

An incredible but true story... probably this year's best film. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was released around the time that another The Elephant Man production was being performed, a stage play by Bernard Pomerance, which won the 1979 Tony Award for Best Play. This movie is not an adaptation of that play. See more »

Goofs

00:24:19 Frederick Treves says that Merrick is a complete imbecile probably from birth, then right after that says that he's a complete idiot. Imbecile and idiot were actually psychological terms, the former being someone with an IQ between 26 and 50 and the latter being those with an IQ between 0 and 25, so nobody could be both. 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.
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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 Saturday Night Live: Donald Glover/Childish Gambino (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio for Strings, Op. 11
Composed by Samuel Barber
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by André Previn
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User Reviews

 
i'm speechless
14 August 2002 | by ofurkusaSee 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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

10 October 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Elephant Man See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$26,010,864

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$26,023,706
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Brooksfilms See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Criterion Collection)| Dolby Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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