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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 façade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.

Director:

David Lynch

Writers:

Christopher De Vore (screenplay), Eric Bergren (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #148 | Nominated for 8 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Anthony Hopkins ... 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

Joseph "John" Merrick 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 October 1980 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El hombre elefante See more »

Filming Locations:

Broadgate, London, England, UK See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$26,010,864, 31 December 1981
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Brooksfilms See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This movie was based on two published works, "The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences" (1923) by Sir Frederick Treves (who was played by Sir Anthony Hopkins) and "The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity" (1973) by Ashley Montagu, published fifty years after Treves' book. This movie was released fifty-seven years after the former, seven years after the latter, and ninety years after the death of Joseph "John" Merrick (the Elephant Man), who died in 1890. See more »

Goofs

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 »

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 The Sweetest Thing (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Adagio for Strings, Op. 11
Composed by Samuel Barber
Performed by London Symphony Orchestra
Conducted by André Previn
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

If Your Life Sucks Watch This Movie
27 July 2004 | by philosofee_lvr2003See 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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