The Elephant Man


(out of 5)

David Lynch’s mainstream breakthrough film captures a nightmarish vision of Victorian London society. Filmed in dreamy black and white, it tells the story of John Merrick (), an English gentleman who was born hideously deformed after his pregnant mother was attacked by an enraged elephant while working in the circus. A kindly doctor () rescues the grown Merrick from circus life, installing him in his home and studying him while also opening him up to the pleasures of society.  is excellent as a good natured actress who happily spends time with Merrick without flinching at the sight of him as most others do, and it is her friendship that inspires a sense of personal dignity in him that he never had before. Hurt is marvelous in the lead, reaching through the extensive prostheses to find the heart of this very lonely man who learns to see himself as more than a scientific curiosity.  There’s also a play based on Merrick’s story, but this film is taken from the books The Elephant Man And Other Reminiscences by Sir Frederick Treves and The Elephant Man: A Study In Human Dignity by Ashley Montagu.

USA, 1980

Directed by

Screenplay by David Lynch, , , based on the book The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences by , and The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity by

Cinematography by

Produced by

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Cast Tags:  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Academy Award Nominations
Best Actor in a Leading Role (John Hurt as “John Merrick”)
Best Art Direction (art direction: Stuart Craig, Bob Cartwright; set decoration: Hugh Scaife)
Best Costume Design (Patricia Norris)
Best Directing (David Lynch)
Best Film Editing (Anne V. Coates)
Best Music (Original Score) (John Morris)
Best Picture (Jonathan Sanger, producer)
Best Writing (Screenplay Based on Material From Another Medium) (Christopher DeVore, Eric Bergren, David Lynch)

Golden Globe Award Nominations
Best Motion Picture-Drama
Best Performance By An Actor in a Motion Picture-Drama (John Hurt)
Best Director (David Lynch)
Best Screenplay (Eric Bergren)

National Society of Film Critics Award Nomination
Best Cinematography (Freddie Francis)

National Board Of Review Award
Top Ten Films

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium

Directors Guild Award Nomination
Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (David Lynch)

British Academy Awards
Best Film
Best Actor (John Hurt)
Best Direction (David Lynch)
Best Production Design/Art Direction

Best Screenplay
Best Cinematography
Best Editing

Cesar Award
Best Foreign Film



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