MOVIE REVIEW: “The Elephant Man” stars Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, Thor: Ragnarok), John Hurt (Alien , Hellboy ), Anne Bancroft (The Graduate, Silent Movie), John Gielgud (Arthur , Murder on the Orient Express ), Wendy Hiller (A Man for All Seasons, Pygmalion), Freddie Jones (Dune , The Count of Monte Cristo), Michael Elphick (The Element of Crime, Gorky Park), Hannah Gordon (Watership Down, Made of Honor), Dexter Fletcher (Kick-Ass, Band of Brothers [TV Mini-Series]), and Lesley Dunlop (A Little Night Music, Emmerdale Farm [TV series]). It is directed by David Lynch (Eraserhead, Wild at Heart), who wrote the screenplay with Christopher De Vore (Hamlet , Frances) and Eric Bergren (Frances, The Dark Wind).
After discovering a man with immense human deformities going under the name The Elephant Man (Hurt), Dr. Frederick Treves (Hopkins) takes him into his hospital to study and help him, much to the scrutiny of his colleagues and associates.
Since starting my job on a Hulu series back in December, I have had far too little time to watch films. My ten to twelve hour shifts often left me drained at the end of the day, and by the weekend I would be trying to fill my time with social activities that were not movie-related. The films I did end up watching during my current stint of work were often ones of light-hearted escapism. Rather than dive into a deep, dark void of a David Lynch feature, I saw myself yearning for rom-coms, which has certainly flipped my world upside down. I received “The Elephant Man” as a Christmas gift, and had it sitting on my shelf for months, waiting for the right time where I would be in the mood to watch it. That day never came. So, one night I decided to bite the bullet, forego my mood, and see it anyway.
That was two weeks ago. Now I’m trying to collect my thoughts.
The only thing I have seen of David Lynch is a selection of lessons from his MasterClass. They shot it in a way that fit his style: grungy, dark, foreboding. It’s not something I prefer as a film connoisseur, and found myself never getting around to watching his movies because of it. “The Elephant Man” is his second picture, boasting elegant set pieces, haunting imagery, swooping score, and a cast made up of top-tier talent. All of the pieces to orchestrate a one-of-a-kind cinema experience were there… and I’m glad I forced myself to see it.
Humanity is at the forefront of this story, depicted in the absence of it. Based on a real person, John Merrick was born with several deformities, resulting in a guise that is unappealing and frightening to anyone who sees him. He’s treated like a freak, and is placed in various circuses under the moniker the Elephant Man. His journey from a shell of a man to someone with a sense of humanity is quite touching, the story itself culminating into a portrait of beauty. It’s something that kept me engaged, invested in its characters and eager to see where the adventure would take me.
Of course, this theme that is depicted is one we’ve seen a couple times in cinema. Beauty on the inside is something we are privy to, but Lynch goes the extra mile by crafting a unique tale and giving it a brooding style. The scenery and black-and-white palette did a great deal for the story, adding a texture that only completed the grungy feel the theme tried to evoke. Tack on some wonderful performances by a young Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt, and you’ve got yourself a film worth talking about.
I enjoyed the feature and all that it explored. It felt genuine and full of heart, to which I didn’t expect (quite frankly, I had imagined that Lynch more so went for insanity than heart). If you’re looking for an introduction to the filmmaker, this is a solid piece to study. It has its questionable moments, but overall it stands as a wonderful piece of film that I enjoyed watching beginning to end. I would certainly recommend it. FINAL SCORE: 94%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: