Elephant Man (1980) Reviewed

"The Elephant Man" original poster art

"The Elephant Man" original poster art

The Elephant Man make-up still elicits a shudder decades later. A post-ALIEN John Hurt plays the 21-year old John Merrick, a horrendously abused and monstrously deformed circus freak and mama’s boy who is taken in by a kindly surgeon (Anthony Hopkins) that wants to give him a chance at a life of comfort and dignity. Hurt is unrecognizable and effective under layers of latex and behind garbling mouth appliances. The make-up effects are accurate and equally heartbreaking. This was David Lynch’s follow-up to Eraserhead, and he was nominated for an Oscar for his direction. In retrospect it hardly feels like a Lynch movie at all. It was easily his most accessible mainstream movie until The Straight Story two decades later. Shot in black and white, the cinematography captures turn-of-the-century England in all its bleak grittiness. The script is based on the memoirs of the surgeon Hopkins portrays. Watch for “Time Bandit,” Kenney (R2D2) Baker in a small (heh) role. ***1/2

Watch the original trailer complete with the famous “I am not an animal!” bit:

~ by Number5ive on April 17, 2009.

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