The Elephant Man (1980) Poster

Parents Guide

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Sex & Nudity

  • Genitals are referred to in an anatomical discussion and we see pants being removed from the man being discussed (this is seen from behind a curtain and he is facing backwards from the camera so there is no actual nudity).
  • None, except for a few kisses. There are one or two scenes that show John Merrick without clothes, albeit in silhouette.

Violence & Gore

  • In a surreal sequence a woman is knocked over by an elephants trunk and seems to be in pain.
  • A scene where a man is being operated on by surgeons, we see his body for a few seconds. We can see blood on his whole face and torso and his chest is open, though it's not very gorey because it's in black and white.
  • A scene of two women fighting, they are yelling and being held back by people in a crowed and police officers, their faces are covered in blood.
  • A man grabs another man by the throat. A man threatens another man with a metal rod and is then hit on the head with a heavy object and knocked out.
  • A man hits a young boy and he falls over.
  • A man bumps into a young girl while he is running and she falls over.
  • A man is beaten with a cane in multiple scenes.


  • A few words like "bastard".

Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking

  • A few scenes where characters are seen smoking.
  • Scenes of drinking and a scene with a drunken mob.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • Throughout the film, John Merrick is continuously tormented by society, and he's shown getting physically and emotionally abused. This is extremely emotionally upsetting, depressing and traumatizing, especially for anyone who has gone through a similar fate.
  • The main character has an extremely deformed appearance that many could find disturbing. However, the film makes a point of showing how he is a very good and gentle man despite his affliction.
  • In a traumatic dream scene, Merrick is kicked with a drowning noise in the background.


The Parents Guide items below may give away important plot points.

Sex & Nudity

  • A cruel hospital caretaker dares a drunken woman to kiss Mr. Merrick's deformed lips. More disturbing than sexual.

Frightening & Intense Scenes

  • There is one scene where John Merrick gets harassed by a mob; they force him to drink alcohol and treat him like a toy.
  • There is a scene where Merrick gets locked up in a cage with some screaming monkeys.
  • During the final minutes there is an intense scene at the train station where an angry mob chases Merrick.

See also

Taglines | Plot Summary | Synopsis | Plot Keywords

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