Film Review: ‘Elephant Man’ (1980

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Fig1. Film Poster

In Victorian England in 1862 Joseph Merrick was born. After few years he got strange symptoms and his body started to deform. Abandoned by his family and the society he was forced to ‘live’ from his difference in a circus. Only after doctor Frederic Treves helped him, and then followed by his example other people from upper class, Merrick got a chance to live like a human should for the rest of his life. It’s a true biography of a real person for which David Lynch in much detail made a film only changing the name to John. ‘Elephant Man’ is a story about acceptance of being different, prejudice and finding yourself in the society.

Fig2. Circus

At first Lynch makes the audience think that the film is going to be about a creature that is more of an animal then a human. But after a while the director dresses Merrick (John Hurt) in a fine suit, gives him an ability to talk, artistic talent, intelligence and a good heart, he only left the deformed appearance.

At the beginning of the film when we get to see John, there are feelings of dislike and almost abomination about his physical state, but we quickly change our mind understanding how much we judger him just because of how he looks. In the scene when the night guard at the hospital brings people from a lower class and lets them see John through the window, the audience understands it’s not John who is being disgusting but the society who is laughing at him. There was few scenes in the film that shown us how hard it must have been for Merrick to live in nineteenth century, with people not thinking about others feelings.

Fig3. John Merrick with Dr. Treves at the hospital.

The film shows us a grotesque drama of an individual person who has to live with being an outcast. For some reason Lynch made the audience stand next to Merrick and just watch what is happening which makes us feel sad for him. I think if we were let to see through John’s eyes everything would seem horrifying and more dramatic, then we could actually understand his pain. Its also worth to mention great acting of John Hurt who had to cope with the costume. Anthony Hopkins who plays Doctor Treves finds a great balance between professional well known scientist and a very tender person who cares about human feelings. The film was made in black and white which gives us that feeling of dark Victorian England.

Bibliography:
Ed Howard: http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2008/12/elephant-man.html (16/10/2011) Almar Haflidason: bbc.co.uk- http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/05/24/the_elephant_man_1980_review.shtml (16/10/2011) TM: timeout.com- http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/63796/the-elephant-man.html (16/10/2011)

Illustrations:
Fig1.- http://www.signis.net/malone/tiki-index.php?page=Elephant+Man&PHPSESSID=0647f8d1b7c5f8521f8de606796b616d (16/10/2011) Fig2.- http://www.themoviedb.org/movie/1955 (16/10/2011) Fig3.- http://seul-le-cinema.blogspot.com/2008/12/elephant-man.html (16/10/2011)